The Dying Brahmaputra

Sunset over river Brahmaputra
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by Partha Prawal

Once in a workshop on climate change, one of the speakers said that “if someone wants to know how clean and civilized the people of a city are then one must simply peep into the rivers of the city. Dirtier a river is the uncivilized are the citizens”.

And this, perhaps, is 100 percent true!

If we look at the most beautiful cities across the world, we will find that these cities, in fact, have few of the most exotic and scenic riverside.

However, when it comes to India we have some of the dirtiest and polluted rivers of the world. Scenic and picturesque riverside views are just a dream…

Being a city of the plains, Guwahati was blessed with rivers and hills and numerous water bodies and these were properly utilized then it would have enhanced the city’s tourism sector by manifolds.

It had a scenic beauty which was second to none.

The city was blessed to have the mighty Brahmaputra flowing through its heart and this added to the city’s beauty.

Also called as the Burha Luit or the Mahabahu, the Brahmaputra also gave birth to numerous literature and soulful songs and poetry.

Legendary musician late Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s romance with the Brahmaputra is well known. He did not just sing about it, but he sang for it. It was like as if he was in a divine relationship with the river.

But today when I see the river and its banks, especially in Guwahati, the pathetic sights in front saddens me.

What have we done to this majestic beauty and its picturesque banks?

To capture the ugliness the banks of the river behold today, I randomly clicked a few photographs some years back at the Uzan Bazar riverside in Guwahati. This riverside is famous for holding different festivals and carnivals.

The place is full of garbage of every kind and crows are the most frequent visitors!

I read somewhere that crows easily rip the thrash and rummage through it, thereby making any place look ugly. The presences of crows in large numbers indicate that the riverside is full of trash and garbage, dumped by the much-civilized Guwahtians!

Plastics and food leftovers adorn the bank
Plastic bags and trash thrown by the tourists

A heap of vegetable waste which faces towards the might river
Garbage and trash of all sorts at a slope of the bank
The outlet of a sanitary tank
A murder of crows on the bank

The banks of the Brahmaputra are the most visited place at any time of the year. People not only visit the banks for casual outings and picnics but also to attend the numerous festivals- the permission for which is given by the administration.

I have failed to wonder what people achieve by destroying nature and its beauty and then revisit the same place in search of serenity and then complain that the place is full of dirt and filth!

Who are to be blamed?  If we can’t create, we should at least not destroy.

The Burha Luit is grasping for free air. Let it breathe and live.

This is just one bank, the most popular of all the river banks of Guwahati. Do we still have time for a revival?

Even the Master Craftsman is unable to innovate anything new to protect the Brahma’s son
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