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World Rivers Day highlights sorry state of Indian rivers

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Agra/Mathura: With people of Braj Mandal expressing solidarity with millions around the world to highlight environmental degradation and pollution in rivers, the maladies of the Indian rivers including Yamuna which have cradled life and culture for eons, came into the fore on the World Rivers Day on Sunday.

World Rivers Day, a celebration of the contribution of the rivers in human life, highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.

 

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Activists in Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan celebrated the day by holding a plethora of programmes including group discussions, visits to the river and rallies.

Anand Rai, an ex-NASA scientist, irked over the atrocious condition of rivers, and said, “pathetic is the condition of the river which has been reduced to a sewage canal.”

Coinciding with the Ganesh idol immersion ceremonies at the Yamuna ghats in Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan, environmentalists pointed out the failure of the administration to prevent pollution of the river.

“Though the local authorities had dug up pits for immersion, many devotees bypassed the law and moved to obscure places to immerse the idols in Yamuna,” regretted river activist Shravan Kumar Singh.

At a discussion organised by ‘Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society’, speakers highlighted the grave threat a dry Yamuna posed to the 17th century monument of love, the Taj Mahal. The society’s president Surendra Sharma said: “Even before the monsoon officially withdraws, the Yamuna is already dry in the Taj city, which is facing an acute water crisis.”

(With inputs from IANS)

 

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Activists Gather Along to Demand Cleaning of River Yamuna

Activists allege that this was the first such tragedy of river pollution that claimed human lives

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Yamuna
Activists allege that this was the first such tragedy of river pollution at Yamuna that claimed human lives. Earlier, there had been cases of only animals falling sick after consuming the toxic water. Wikimedia Commons

Green activists have gathered along the banks of the Yamuna demanding early clean up of the river, which is the lifeline for millions of people in north India.

The region was hit by a tragedy 10 days ago when hundreds of pilgrims on Braj Yatra were swept away while crossing the river in a pontoon bridge. The fragile plastic rope they were holding on to didn’t prove strong enough and many began to drown after a virtual stampede.

Though all the pilgrims were saved from drowning, many of them gulped down the toxic river water as they attempted to keep themselves afloat. While two pilgrims died later, hundreds had to be hospitalised and some of them are still under treatment at private hospitals.

Activists allege that this was the first such tragedy of river pollution that claimed human lives. Earlier, there had been cases of only animals falling sick after consuming the toxic water.

The state government, however, has denied the charges of negligence and of failing to prevent pilgrims from crossing the Yamuna.

Yamuna
Green activists have gathered along the banks of the Yamuna demanding early clean up of the river, which is the lifeline for millions of people in north India. Wikimedia Commons

“These pilgrims on a yatra tried to cross the river Yamuna on the Palwal-Aligarh border, holding on to a fragile rope that did not prove strong and many drowned after a stampede. Hundreds lost control and toop sips of the polluted water,” an activist told IANS on Monday.

“An alarm was raised and scores were hospitalised in Mathura, Vrindavan, Kosi and Naujheel for treatment. So far, two have died, many are still critical. The district administration and the police should be taken to task for allowing devotees to cross the river, when dangers were staring at the face,” he said.

More than 20 pilgrims are still in a serious state. An organiser of the yatra, led by Padamshri Ramesh Baba of Barsana, accused officials of the Haryana government, who had failed to repair the pontoon bridge in time.

Reports claimed that a plastic rope tied to tractors on both sides of the river was provided to support pilgrims for wading through the river.

“People of short height could not prevent water from entering their mouths. When one pilgrim was seen drowning, a number of them ran to rescue him. This resulted in a stampede,” a source said.

What is shocking for locals is the rank apathy of the administration.

“Today (Tuesday) being Yama Dwitiya, thousands of pilgrims will come for the special Yamuna bath,” the source added.

Yamuna
The state government, however, has denied the charges of negligence and of failing to prevent pilgrims from crossing the Yamuna. Pixabay

Neither the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh nor the local MP Hema Malini have addressed this problem of river pollution, despite repeated demands and assurances, agitated locals said.

The stink from the river causes nausea and puts off the pilgrims who choose to return to their hotels and dharamshalas for the ritual bath.

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The river is already dead in Vrindavan, declares Jagan Nath Poddar of the Friends of Vrindavan forum. With hardly any fresh water flowing, the stink at the ghats and the heaps of garbage are proving a nightmarish experience, the locals added.

The Yamuna river is regarded as very sacred by Hindus. (IANS)