For all those stay on the two sides of 'Jamna' - the local lingo for the river Yamuna in the Capital - it has long ceased to be a river. It is at best a huge drain that carries the muck of an ever-expanding city. Once or twice a year during the monsoons, it swells up and behaves like a real river and then everyone suddenly talks about it being a river. While we sit and crib about its state, there are some who are using innovative ways to make the public (who still continue to throw non-degradable waste in plastic packets into the river without any remorse) aware of its existence. The Yamuna-Elbe Public Art Project is one such effort. Surprising though it may sound, the banks of the river will soon be a venue for art installations, music concerts, open air theatre, photography workshops etc. A similar project was undertaken in Hamburg through which the Elbe flows, though the situation there was quite different.
While we welcome such efforts, we wonder why the organisers are not using the existing 'installation' artworks that dot the river banks of the country. If used creatively, we could have not just a week but a year-long festival and at no cost at all. Unconvinced? Just look around: what about those non-functional sewage treatment plants, the rusty pipes, the mounds of filth, the skeletal remains of old boats and the not-to-be-missed plastic mess hugging the ghats. You name it, and they are all there. We just need to think creatively, get foreign funding and a couple of permissions, and, hey presto, we have an art festival on our hands.
If nothing else, drawing the attention of the public to these things can at least send out the right message: the art of the matter is that a river does not run through it.