| Marie Rozto’ilová Larroa at the cleaning drive on Sunday. Picture by Rajiv Konwar |
Feb. 24: She has come all the way from Czech Republic to clean the Basistha river and make it pollution-free.
Responding to a call from Parivartan, a non-profit organisation, artist Marie Rozto’ilová Larroa, three others from Argentina, the villagers of Basistha and members of the organisation today participated in a cleaning drive to make the river pollution-free.
During the drive, which started around 10.30am, they cleaned a 100-odd-metre stretch of the river near the Basistha temple.
They recovered hundreds of polythene bags, rags and packets of gutka and snacking products that had blocked the free flow of the river and polluted its water. The river, considered sacred by the people, has been narrowed down to a channel by the activity of people living on both its banks.
One look at the river and one can see that it has been polluted mostly by the waste products of the Basistha temple, which throws its waste directly into the river instead of making arrangements to dump these elsewhere.
Parivartan members expressed concern that if the people did not check their indiscriminate activities now, the river would disappear from the map like the Bahini.
“The river is so dirty here. It should be taken care of,” Marie said while cleaning the river and its bank with a broom.
She will also take part in a campaign — Basistha Creative Camp — that is being organised by Parivartan from March 2 to 9.
“The foreigners have been invited to take part in the programme to encourage the students. Today, they are cleaning the river as well as playing music to keep up the spirits of others. We will clean the river part by part,” Vidyut Chakraborty, convener of the programme, said.
“We are organising the Basistha Creative Camp and Dancing Rain International Festival from March 2 to 9. Our main motto is to put Basistha on the global map. The river is going to die. All sorts of work, from collecting water for marriage to asthi visarjan (dispersal of ashes) are done in the river. People who come to picnic here throw polythene bags and plates into it. There should be a proper way to keep the river clean and maintain its beauty,” Arindam Mahanta, a member of Parivartan, said.
“Altogether eight artists from Argentina, France and Czech Republic will participate in the awareness campaign, in which local artists will also participate. The Dancing Rain International Festival is a cultural event that will provide a platform to showcase the culture of all countries participating in it,” Mahanta said.