Mathura: Thousands of ascetics, spiritual leaders and ecological activists of Braj area have announced their decision to march to Delhi once again to pressure the Modi government to take prompt measures to cleanse rever Yamuna of pollutants and ensure uninterrupted flow of water round the year.
At a preparatory body meeting for the Vrindavan Kumbh, prominent ascetics including Ramesh Baba of Barsana said it was high time the central government did something concrete and implemented the decisions already announced. Some of the holy men have planned an indefinite hunger strike in the capital.
The gathering accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of going back on its words regarding cleaning up the river. Union water resources minister Uma Bharti, already, had promised to execute an action plan for the Yamuna, after the last foot-march last November. "Even after so many marches and rallies, the Union government has not responded to the demands and Yamuna continues to remain dry and polluted for most of the year," Braj Bachao Samiti member Dr.Ghanshyam Pandey said.
The spiritual leaders and activists appear to be in a fighting mood, ready for a face-off with the ruling dispensation which, many said, had promised a lot for the Yamuna but not done enough to save the river which is the lifeline for the Braj region. The river is key to the future of the region, which sees millions of devotees of Krishna and Radha visit temples and holy sites scattered around here.
Protesters told Samiksha Bharti News Service that local MP Hema Malini too had failed, although before May 2014 election to the Lok Sabha she had pledged to take up the Yamuna issue as a priority. The Yamuna flood plains were being encroached upon by the land developers while the drains all the way from Faridabad to Mathura were openly discharging industrial effluents. "But nothing has been done to stop all this," said river activist Madhu Mangal Shukla, whose petition in the National Green Tribunal on solid waste management in Vrindavan is pending disposal.
"As a river, Yamuna is already dead. What survives is a sewage canal," said another activist Jagannath Poddar, convener of Friends of Vrindavan. The ascetics of Braj, meanwhile, are now on a circumnavigation of the Braj region, led by Ramesh Baba. "Through the march, we are mobilizing support for the upcoming Yamuna movement as well, said an organizer.
Activists said the initiative taken by the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to promote daily Yamuna 'aarti' to bring people back to the river, has been widely appreciated in Mathura and Vrindavan. "This will surely help mobilize public support for the cause of Yamuna, as we have seen in Agra where the Yamuna aarti has been going on since April 1 this year," said Devashish Bhattacharya, a key member of the River Connect Campaign.