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A portion of Dzuvuru near Kohima in Nagaland, before and after the clean-up drive on Wednesday
A portion of Dzuvuru near Kohima in Nagaland, before and after the clean-up drive on Wednesday|EastMojo image
NAGALAND

How Nagaland locals united to save India’s 2nd most unlivable city

Waste accumulated over the years had made Dzuvuru into a sewer; 1,829 volunteers took part in a campaign to clean a stretch of the river near state capital Kohima

Medolenuo Ambrocia

Medolenuo Ambrocia

Kohima: Up to 1,829 volunteers, comprising mostly students, took part in a campaign to clean a stretch of Dzuvuru that runs through Kohima in Nagaland on Wednesday. Waste accumulated over the past 50 years had turned the river into a veritable sewer near the state capital that was referred to as the second most ‘unlivable’ city in the country, as per the ‘Ease of Living Index’ released by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs on August 13 last year.

Spearheaded by the Kohima Village Students’ Union (KVSU), the first phase of the 'Save Dzuvuru’ campaign was launched by Neikesalie Kire, advisor, rural development on World Environment Day on June 5.

Located 3 km from Kohima town, ‘Dzuvuru’ translates to ‘river Dzuvu’. It is joined by Kharu stream below AG and D Block of Kohima town, which then joins Dzuu and Sidzu rivers in Kohima district before flowing to Doyang in Wokha district. Doyang is the largest river in Nagaland.

Speaking to EastMojo, Kikrukhrielie Kevin Khezhie, president of KVSU, revealed how the idea of saving the river stretch was proposed. “KVSU annually carries social work, be it cleanliness or plantation drives. Following the trend, the new team decided to commemorate World Environment Day by doing something truly meaningful for society. So, we brainstormed the idea of a ‘Clean Kohima’ as this year’s theme after much consultations with students, which triggered the need to save the environment. Eventually, Dzuvuru, which is in a sorry state now and has been ignored for years, got our attention and we decided to save it.”

Over the years, Dzuvuru has  accumulated huge amounts of waste turning it into a veritable sewer
Over the years, Dzuvuru has accumulated huge amounts of waste turning it into a veritable sewer
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KVSU then began to structure its plans to clean the lost river-stretch after the Kohima Village Council KVC) shared the same concern. Talking about the idea behind gaining massive response from the people, Khezie said: “Concerted efforts had to be put in from all the stakeholders to really make an impact. Colony panchayats had to actively participate in this campaign. To provoke this thought, a mega-event was planned so that not only the leaders, but the community as a whole would be conscious. All schools, colleges, traders’ unions and churches encompassing the area had to be mobilised for such an event.”

“We are grateful that all responded very positively to this call. With our campaign gaining momentum thorough various platforms, what was planned to be an event numbering a 1,000 volunteers saw a turnover of 1,829 in all on the launch day (this figure excludes the many dignitaries and invitees present),” Khezie added.

While school students in uniforms cleaned the roadsides, other volunteers went down the river stretch, picking up garbage and waste. Khezie informed EastMojo that over 500 metres of the river was cleaned during the first phase of the campaign on Wednesday.

As an initiative of the Kohima Village Students’ Union, 1,829 volunteers gathered on Wednesday to clean the lost stretch of Dzuvuru in Kohima
As an initiative of the Kohima Village Students’ Union, 1,829 volunteers gathered on Wednesday to clean the lost stretch of Dzuvuru in Kohima
Albert Rutsa

Highlighting the challenges, Kezie said “We could only clean up 500 m starting from the top. Due to the many layers of accumulated waste over the past 50 years, it will still not be enough. And the further it goes down, the messier it becomes. Also rampant discharging of septic tanks/ some toilets with no septic tanks added to the misery. KVYO inspected the entire strip of the residential area beside the steam and took stock of the areas which needed monitoring and will also be conducting visits to ensure that people stop dumping.”

With its ultimate aim to “save Dzuvuru”, Khezie said the next phase of the campaign will start with a consultative meeting with the Kohima Municipal Council, all the six colony panchayat leaders, KVC, KVYO and other like-minded individuals after which a comprehensive action plan will be brought up and put to force.

“Ultimately, the colonies and citizens/ residents of the localities surrounding the vicinity will be the ones to shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the area. KVSU is merely facilitating and highlighting the cause so slowly, after giving the little support to the stake holders, we hope to see civic sense become a culture in our society,” Khezie added.

A picture of the clean river-stretch after the launch of the first phase of ‘Save Dzuvuru’ campaign
A picture of the clean river-stretch after the launch of the first phase of ‘Save Dzuvuru’ campaign
Albert Rutsa

Meanwhile, KVSU has received support from various government agencies, NGOs, schools and colleges. Khezie acknowledged the efforts of all citizens and further urged for cooperation towards maintaining a clean Kohima.