By the River

by Meenaz Amreliwala

Kameng’s gloriously diverse shorelines take in some truly outstanding scenery, from soaring cliffs to rugged rock stacks, as well as beautiful estuaries, coastal woods and forests.

After a short downhill walk along a craggy path, a sense of arrival was felt when I first set eyes on the babbling river that streamed through a wide natural channel. The pleasant flow of enchanting ripples was relaxing and beautiful to see in the evening light. It carried severed sediments, and barren soil from the forest. A stroll along the bank of Kameng near Bhalukpong allowed us to enjoy diverse sights from lush evergreen rainforest to bamboo brakes, and perched hornbills to songs of River Lapwings, all in their glory and peaceful ambience.

The harmonious fusion of the verdant forest, and the charismatic sound of trickling water served as the perfect setting to shut my eyes, take a deep breath, and absorb the sacred elements of nature. This river has large pockets of undeveloped and protected land which preserve quiet scenic vistas of coastal marshes. Despite my limited botanical knowledge, I attempted to identify some of the widespread Nameri’s tree species across the river. The virginity of the woodland–adorned with dense growths of trees, thick moss, ferns, shrubs, and wild orchids–was readily observable.

Over the years, influx of local communities for farming, and the brick & mortar clusters on the western side of Kameng River has hindered the corridors used by wild animals to access the river and also the Nameri Division forests. The Kameng River (known by this name in Arunachal Pradesh and as Jia Bhoreli in Assam) originates from a glacial lake in Tawang district and flows through the Bhalukpong circle.

Kameng receives a remarkable annual rainfall of 1,300 to 1,800mm. As a consequence, the river grows larger and gives birth to innumerable perennial streams; that drain into tributary systems such as the Tenga, Bichom, and Dirang Chu, to name a few. These provide water to Nameri Forest’s inhabitants and irrigate vast swathes of agricultural fields.  Hence, the wildlife together with downstream human population is directly dependent on the well-being of this river belt. However, the stench of river exploitation exists, as the Resin and Citronella factories based in Tippi (4km from Bhalukpong) pollute the pristine water with their foul effluents.

We all picked our preferred spot along the riverside and we were ready for some sort of contemplation. As I sat there on a small semi-submerged boulder in deep silence, I could identify with the congenial environment that surrounded me. It dawned on me that our bodies and its needs haven’t changed since humans first evolved; therefore most of the present problems are based on the fact that we’ve created a world that vastly differs from the one for which evolution designed us. If the river reflects life and if it somehow bears our soul, we seem to have lost touch with it due to our extravagant modern life.

Across the river, the immense wing fanning of three Lapwings reverberated in our ears. Beside me a group of young folks had turned up the radio and were screaming at the top of their voices. The river reflected two of India’s faces here in one place. I sat there quietly listening to both worlds.

Photos by Supraket Meshram
Click here to read more stories by Meenaz at her blog.