Agra, Jan 9 (IANS) Hundreds of river activists and college students on Thursday cleaned the Yamuna river bed opposite Etmauddaula, also known as Baby Taj.
Students from several schools picked up polythene and leather waste from the river bed. The collected waste was later transferred to the landfill site by the municipal employees.
According to the members of the River Connect Campaign, a sustained movement by the voluntary sector would be launched to clean up Yamuna and put pressure on government agencies to speed up the cleanliness drive behind the Taj Mahal, which is being attacked by insects and fleas breeding in the polluted pools of water in the river.
Sandeep Agarwal and Anand Rai from India Rising, an NGO which has been cleaning and painting roadside stretches for the past five years, said that locals will have to be mobilised to take up river cleaning in a big way.
It is also necessary to involve the nine MLAs and two MPs of the ruling BJP, who made a number of tall promises to rejuvenate the dying river, they said.
Pandit Jugal Kishore Shrotriya, convener of the cleanliness drive, said, “Coming Sankranti, we will organise a massive kite flying festival to be joined by thousands of local people. The river bed is being cleaned up and levelled in preparation for the big event.”
Shravan Kumar Singh, an activist of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, said that despite protests and demonstrations, the state and the Central governments have so far done nothing to clean up Yamuna.
Environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya said, “Yamuna’s health is crucial to the health of Mughal monuments along the banks of the river, which unfortunately has been reduced to a vast sewage canal.
“Only waste from drains and industrial effluents are flowing down the holy river. The Taj Trapezium Zone Authority had done precious little to change the environmental conditions in Agra, or to improve water quality in the river, despite spending crores of rupees.”