Music to the rescue of Vrishabhavathi river

A highly polluted river with greyish-black water, carrying everything from plastic to industrial waste, is not the usual setting for a music video. But for residents around the Vrishabhavathi river, it is a reality they encounter every day. It is to highlight this fact that a group of residents of Kengeri made a music video on the once pristine river.

Through the lyrics, residents describe the state of the Vrishabhavathi: “On the Mysore highway, want cool wind in your hair. But you roll up your windows, and you hold your breath. Up ahead in the distance, a river is turning white. The waters widen and the froth gets thick, it’s a saddening sight.”

Emboldened by the positive impact active citizen participation has had in bringing the plight of poorly maintained lakes to unmotorable roads to the spotlight, residents have come together to help the ‘Namma nadi Vrishabhavathi’ campaign gather steam.

Kamaan Singh Dhami, a musician, who, along with his student feature in the video, said involving children in the campaign will help pass on the message to different communities, as getting citizens to react is the only way to get the government to react.

“We live close to the Vrishabhavathi. The campaign group is focussed on people living in R.R. Nagar, Kengeri and surrounding areas to increase awareness among them, so they can become the catalyst for change. My initiative ‘Green Jam’ is all about bringing environment and music together,” he said.

The song, available online, was shot with the river in the background. “We were standing on garbage while shooting the video. The biggest challenge was to digest the sad state of the river, which we fail to see clearly though we live close to it. But the good news is that though many have declared it a hopeless situation, the tide is turning. The river has started affecting people, and they are now aware of it having an impact on the milk and food they consume. They want to do something about it,” said Mr. Dhami.

Niveditha Sunkad, a resident of R.R. Nagar and part of the campaign, agreed. “Different communities in different parts are contributing to the movement. If local groups can contribute in their area with measures such as monitoring STPs, we will meet with some success. We are working with different departments, such as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, irrigation department, and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, and there has been some development,” she said.

Some citizens are working with farmers downstream for tree plantation drives that could help absorb nutrients, she added.

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