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By NewsGram Staff Writer
Even as Hema Malini completes one year as MP of Mathura-Vrindavan, residents are still awaiting the provision of safe and adequate drinking water that the cine veteran had promised. The land of Sri Krishna is yet to see a fully rejuvenated Yamuna, the lifeline of the janma-bhoomi.
The towns, mohallas and colonies in Mathura, Goverdhan, Vrindavan and Chaumuhan which are totally dependent on groundwater, do not have access to piped water supply and, therefore, remain bereft of clean water. The problem is further aggravated by the fall in water table levels.
“Earlier hand pumps were sufficient but now submersible pumps, tube wells and borings are coughing more air than water. No water is available till a depth of 150 feet or more, says river activist Madhu Mangal Shukla.
The water crisis is becoming acute by the day. Hordes of people have been protesting on roads for uninterrupted water supply.
Yamuna has earned the title of “sewage canal” by the residents. Even the Gokul Barrage, launched to clean the water supply has failed miserably.
The districts of Agra, Mathura and Firozabad continue to face acute shortage of power and water despite hundreds of crores of rupees being invested in infrastructural development in the eco-sensitive Taj Trapeizium Zone, spread over 10,400 sq km,
Work on a canal connecting the river Ganga is moving at a snail’s pace and the people in Firozabad are up in arms against the administration, demanding more water.
“The problem is not only of quantity but also quality of water in the river. Unless they desilt and dredge the river on a massive scale from Delhi to Agra, the underground aquafiers would not be charged and the water table will not rise,” activist Dr Ashok Bansal told IANS.
Villagers are facing similar problems. According to village panchayat member, Ram Bharosey in Chaumuhan block, the villagers have been demanding extension of water pipeline network to cover more areas, but to no avail.
Recognising the grave situation, the UP Chief Minister had installed a reverse-osmosis(RO) plant in Goverdhan on March 11. Following the move, the district administration has started supporting installation of reverse-osmosis (RO) plants where villagers can pay for water.
“The chief minister had sanctioned five more such plants for the Braj area. Each plant will provide 5,000 litres of water daily, which can be raised to 10,000 litres”, Mathura district magistrate Rajesh Kumar told IANS.
“The users will have to pay 50 paise per litre initially. Later it will be reduced to 25 paise per litre,” he added.
Farmers in the area, however, feel that such measures are like a drop in the ocean and more needs to be done.
“Young people are turning old, suffering the consequences of hard water. Fluorosis is common from the excessive fluoride in the water”, says Gopal Das, a farmer, adding that the ground water is hard and undrinkable.
Dr M.K Mathur of the public health centre at Chaumuhan says that due to the fluoride, magnesium, arsenic, calcium and other trace elements in the water people are falling sick.
Indicating the poor quality of water, an examination of 222 patients conducted last week in a village near Kosi, found 92 people to be hepatitis B and C positive. This has put the health authorities in the district on high alert.
“Village level functionaries are holding awareness activities to educate people about water-borne diseases. Jal Nigam officials have been asked to ensure supply of drinking water through tanks or pipelines to all such villages which have been identified as fluorosis-affected”, says Mathura’s chief development officer (CDO) Andra Vamsi.
Such efforts may take a while to bear fruit though. The water woes follow wherever one goes.
K.K Pathak, a resident in the Chata area, says that the state agencies have hardly helped to solve the problem. “Unless urgent measures are taken, the problem will become too big to tackle”, he says.
Pilgrims are being fleeced with water bottles selling at a premium in places such as Nandgaon and Barsana.
The desperate situation has resulted in the villagers of Pasauli taking measures into their own hands. They have pooled in money to dig a borewell where water could be reached.
Realising that self-help was the only mantra for progress, the villagers built a pipeline and brought the water to the village. To run the pump for the borewell, they arranged a tractor.
“Braj Bhoomi was once famous for its dense forests and water bodies. In the name of development, nature has been the loser and we humans the sufferers”, says Pankaj Goswami, a resident of Gokul.
It is high time the politicians did something concrete and lasting.
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.