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Water woes continue to haunt Braj residents, politicians yet to take-up concrete steps

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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.

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