A number of voluntary organisations and eminent persons got together on Monday to launch a ‘Satyagraha’ to save the Yamuna riverbed from ‘ill conceived’ construction projects.
The protestors, led by water activist and Ramon Magsaysay award winner, Rajendra Singh, planted saplings at the site of the Commonwealth Games village project behind Akshardham Temple, off Nizamuddin Bridge. Well-known lawyer activist Prashant Bhushan, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, orninthologist Anand Arya who is fighting for the cause of the Okhla Bird Park, P.V. Rajgopal of Action 2007, Prof Vikram Soni and Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan were among the protestors.
The ‘Satyagrahis’ then faced the ire of the police who dragged one of the protestors, Kumar Onkareshwar, away from the site. Many of the planted saplings were pulled out and thrown away by a Delhi Development Authority team that reached the spot, Singh said.
Voluntary organisations that took part in the protest included Singh’s Jal Biradari, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi Ridge Bachao Andolan, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan and residents’ welfare association of East Delhi under Urja.
Earlier, President of India International Centre M.G.K. Menon had also petitioned the Prime Minister to put a stop to the construction of the Games Village site in the water recharge zone of Yamuna. "We chose August 1 as the day for launching the Satyagraha as this was the day Bal Gangadhar Tilak declared that ‘swaraj’ is the birthright of every Indian. Similarly, it is the right of every citizen that Yamuna be returned to its pristine glory with its river bed and floodplains intact," Singh said.
He added that water reservoirs created by the Yamuna meets 40 per cent of the city’s drinking water supply needs. Delhi will have a ‘waterless future’ if its entire stretch gets covered with concrete jungle, Singh said. "The government has to acknowledge this truth that is the ‘satya agrah (acknowledgement of truth)’ that we are seeking," Singh said.
Kuldip Nayar said it was necessary to save the Yamuna, to save the city’s drinking water supply from drying out. P.V. Rajagopal expressed similar views.