A small group of 73 villages in Mathura have taken up a daunting task of restoring river Yamuna to its past glory around the birthplace of Lord Krishna after the district administration has linked disbursement of development funds with cleaning of the river.
The river has shrunk into a smelling drain in this stretch of Uttar Pradesh.
The villagers from these villagers have formed Yamuna Mitra Panchayat and have taken a vow that they will not allow dumping of animal carcass and disposal of human excreta into the river and washing of dirty clothes on the riverbank.
Dead animals will be dumped at designated sites, public toilets will be built in each village and there will be dhobi ghats (washing area) near a pond in each village to prevent the unwarranted dirt from flowing into the river.
"A committee in every village has been constituted to ensure that no dirty dumping takes place in the river," said Mathura's Chief Development Officer Ajay Shankar Pandey.
These 73 villages would also be a "no zone" for use of polythene bags, which clog the river and adversely impact the marine life. To make the ban effective, those found carrying polythene bags would be fined, the district administration has announced. Already, a drive has started to remove polythene bags from canals and drains leading to river Yamuna.
In a bid to make the initiative work, the district administration has linked the clean Yamuna campaign with development funds for each village. In the villages, were water pollution level in the river would be found to be very high, the punishment will be a cut in development fund.
"It is the only way to make campaign a year-round affair and totally participatory," Pandey, who is responsible for disbursing developing funds in the district, said. And, the villages, which show phenomenal improvement in river water quality, will get higher development funds.
The CDO has assured villages that stringent action will be taken against sand mafia and those involved in cutting of trees around Yamuna. In coming days, the government will initiate action against industrial units polluting the river.