The shrinking Yamuna and Mallah woes
For over 500 years, the lives of the people of the Mallah community in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana depend on the Yamuna. During flourishing waterways, the Mallah’s were the traditional boatmen ferrying people. With waterway navigation shrinking, the Mallah’s took on to fishing, and as the fishing contracts were sold to the highest bidders by the government, the Mallah’s were reduced to farming watermelons, cucumbers, bottle-gourd and muskmelon by the river bank. But with a river which has no water, this community is the worst hit. As HT travelled through the villages near the Yamuna in UP’s Kairana block, locked homes were visible village after village. And the biggest causality of these locked homes are the children who migrate along with their families for the cultivation from the banks of Yamuna to the banks of Ganga from December to July.