By Brij Khandelwal
Celebrating world rivers day at the Etmauddaula view point park, scores of river activists on Sunday evening beat drums, thalis, bells and shankhs to wake up “slumbering” MPs and MLAs from Agra to take up the cause of Yamuna, choking to death due to pollution.
Members of the River Connect Campaign held a spirited protest, criticising callous apathy of the ruling party politicians towards the plight of river Yamuna that sustains history, architecture, culture and religion.
In a resolution, they demanded dredging and desilting of the river bed, continuous discharge of a minimum quantity of water to sustain organic life in the river and support religious rituals. The activists criticised clearance to new barrage projects on Yamuna in Dehradun, Yamunanagar and Jewar, even as the barrage project downstream of the Taj Mahal was awaiting clearance from the union ministry of environment and forests.
“Yamuna was a critical component of the Taj Mahal complex, but no attention was being paid to revive the river imperiling the safety of the 17th century mausoleum that attracted over seven million visitors annually,” Dr Anand Rai, a green activist said.
Construction of new barrages in Uttarakhand, Haryana and near the upcoming Jewar International Airport will permanently kill the river, green activists warned. They expressed deep resentment against local administration’s failure to demolish encroachments on the Yamuna flood plains in Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan.
Green campaigners were particularly angry with Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for transport, who on three different occasions had promised to start ferry service to bring tourists to Agra from Delhi.
“Thousands of crores of rupees had gone down the gutter, in the name of cleaning and rejuvenating the Yamuna in the eco sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone, but the results were zero,” green activists Dr Harendra Gupta and Rahul Raj said.
In another resolution the activists demanded formulation of a national rivers policy and constitution of a central rivers authority to manage inter state rivers.