The Bold Voice of J&K

”Yamuna Aarti” to spread awareness about pollution

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YamunaAgra: In a novel exercise to raise awareness on the need to clean up the Yamuna, locals here have taken to organising daily ‘puja’ of the river, saying their hope is that the gods will teach polluters a lesson and lead to greater conservation efforts on part of the government.

Scores of people gather every evening at Etmauddaula park here to conduct an ‘aarti’ of the Yamuna.

“Seventy days ago, under our ‘River Connect’ campaign we started the ‘Yamuna Aarti’ to bring people back to the river.

“From a trickle, the number of activists and devotees coming for the aarti and pledging support to restore the glory of a dying river has gone up several fold,” said Goswami Nandan Shrotriya, a priest at the Sri Mathuradheesh temple.

“When human efforts in the form of demonstrations, marches, fasts and dharnas fail, we can only wait for divine intervention,” added Padmini Iyer, one of the key organisers of the aarti.

Concerns abound on the health of the Yamuna despite numerous directives of the Supreme Court, the National Green Tribunal, Yamuna Action Plans and a series of mass movements led by monks and religious leaders of Braj mandal.

“Braj mandal is the land of Sri Krishna-Radha. When devotees see the miserable condition of the Yamuna, stinking and rotting with pollutants… it fills them with disgust,” said river activist Madhu Mangal Shukla, whose petition in Allahabad High Court is pending disposal.

“Yamuna is considered ‘Jeeva Dayini’ (life giver), but the water of the river, which once Babar, the founder of the Mughal empire, described as ‘better than nectar’ now has dead fish and toxins flowing down from industrial clusters upstream in Delhi and Haryana,” added Shukla.

Eminent Mughal historian Prof R Nath added that “forget the religious significance, they don’t even care for the safety of Taj Mahal, a world heritage monument and icon of Indian tourism”.

Yamuna’s health is crucial for the safety of the 17th century Mughal monument, built during the reign of Shah Jahan, added Nath.

According to studies by the central and state pollution control boards, the 230-km from Delhi to Agra is the most- polluted stretch of the Yamuna as hundreds of drains discharge industrial effluents and sewage directly into its waters.

“The illegal colonies?and urban clusters on the encroached river flood plains, numbering thousands, are pumping in sewage through bore wells, or drains?directly into the river. This has poisoned underground reserves,” says environmentalist Shravan Kumar Singh of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.


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