Selling down the river is known to be a political trait. So is sailing along, when it comes to the river associated with Lord Krishna.
Politicians of various hues have promised to restore the glory of the Yamuna in Mathura. They have panned past projects to save the river and promised to replace them with better ones.
Everyone seems concerned about the river’s fate, from BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and his party’s Mathura candidate Hema Malini to her rivals — Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Pandit Yogesh Dwivedi and Samajwadi Party’s Thakur Chandan Singh.
But activists of Yamuna Raksha Dal (YRD) led by Baba Lai Kishan Dass are not convinced about the seriousness. No party has drawn up a specific plan for the river in their manifestos, say the activists who are fighting to revive 24 ghats that have dried up.
“The Yamuna lost its glory long ago. What is taking these politicians so long to plan its restoration?” says an activist working at Gau Ghat. He rues the status of Yamuna, flowing through Mathura and Vrindavan, merely as an election issue.
“It has been a long struggle for us, but awareness amongst residents of Mathura is rising,” said US-based Radha Jeewan Poddar, a member of YRD. He blames Yamuna’s plight to the blocking of the river at Hathini Kund (Haryana) in violation of norms.
“Some 33.3 million litre of sewage is added to the river bed from Delhi. Unaware devotees in Mathura take back bottles of water which they consider holy. Are we not befooling millions of people who take the holy dip every year?” Poddar said.
YRD members recall Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s assurance to create a Yamuna revival body after they staged a 17-day dharna at Jantar Mantar in 2011. Assurances such as digging a 22 km canal alongside Yamuna to divert Delhi’s sewage did not materialise. A march for the river by YRD activists was also stopped from entering Delhi in March last year.
“Mathura and Agra await pure water to drink. For this we need purification of the Yamuna, which was so dear to Lord Krishna. During parliament session in 1978, an assurance was given for safeguarding the 1,376 km stretch of the river but industrial effluents continue to be discharged into it,” Dass said, adding political leaders should do more than just lip service.
(With inputs from SD Sharma)
Neta natter on river
Narendra Modi vowed to work for Yamuna as the status of river project is “disrespect to Krishna”.
BJP’s Mathura candidate Hema Malini outlined Yamuna as her topmost priority.
Sitting MP and RLD candidate Jayant Chaudhury has met Yamuna activist Baba Jai Kishna Dass for creating separate authority to save the river.