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Clean Yamuna march to Delhi to begin Friday
Source: Times of India, Date: February , 2013
MATHURA: It's yet another bid
to draw attention to a dying and polluted river that not just sustains life in
the Braj region but
is also a heritage treasure and a religious symbol for millions of Indians.
At least "100,000 bhakts (religious
devotees)" will turn out for a 10-day march to Delhi that begins from here
Friday to demand that the riverYamuna
be cleaned up.
While the Mathura district authorities have
drawn up elaborate plans to manage the traffic and the influx of activists from
all parts of India, the organisers say traffic would be confined to one
carriageway of the extremely busy National Highway-1 that links this city to the nationalcapital.
At the Chatikara starting point, a tented
township has come up to lodge tens of thousands of activists. Mathura's Jai
Gurudev ashram has also joined the movement and taken the responsibility of
feeding the activists. A huge dais has been readied at Chatikara site to hold a
Yamuna conference before the march begins. The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Bhanu
group) has mobilised thousands of farmers to join the march.
The demands include the release of a minimum
quantity of water into the Yamuna round the year from the Hathini Kund barrage,
some 100 km upstream of New Delhi, and effective checks on drains in the
national capital that dump pollutants, effluents and sewer waste into the river
- literally turning it into one huge drain.
For the past one year, scores of NGOs and groups
of sadhus and babas have been actively mobilising support for the march in the
hope of awakening the powers that be.
"The polluted water that flows in the
Yamuna is not fit for human consumption. It's also a threat to agriculture and
is poisoning our underground reserves," said Ashwini Mishra, an activist
in Agra who began the clean river movement in June 2008.
The river has been reduced to a huge sewage
canal, said Ravi Singh,
another green activist in Agra. "If we do not wake up now, tomorrow will
be too late," he added.
Shravan Kumar Singh, vice president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society said: "The polluted Yamuna is being seen
as a major threat to the Taj Mahal also, because its foundation is being affected
by the toxic waters."
'Wake Up Agra' president Shishir Bhagat took out
a rally two days ago to mobilise support for the Yamuna clean-up efforts.
Vrindavan and Mathura, as also Goverdhan and
Barsana, are full of posters and banners appealing to the people to join the
march to save their life-line.
Yamuna has been the repository of arts, culture,
architecture, history and the Hinduism's Bhakti movement. Yamuna activists say
millions of rupees have gone down the gutter in the two Yamuna Action Plans
which have not made any discernible change to the river system that sustains
life and agriculture affecting millions of people in the three states of
Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
The Supreme Court has expressed its extreme
displeasure that despite the creation of a Yamuna Development Authority and Rs.12,000
crore (over $2 billion) having been spent, the river has been reduced to a
drain and its waters are unfit for drinking or even bathing.
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