Yamuna, the lifeline and the heritage of Sri Krishna land (Braj Bhoomi), is not an issue in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Candidates of different political parties, as well as the top leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who have been campaigning relentlessly in the Braj area, have ignored the demand for rejuvenating the dying river.
The ghats have either vanished or are inundated under heaps of dirt and garbage. A road has been thoughtlessly built right in front of the beautiful row of ghats in Vrindavan. The famous ghats of Mathura are buried under the debris, sludge from sewer waste.
River activists in Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan have been campaigning hard for past ten years to demand continuous discharge of fresh water in the Yamuna to keep the river alive. Studies by government bodies and NGOs have already declared the river a vast sewage canal.
The Yamuna in Agra supports and complements the half a dozen Mughal monuments including the 17th century white marble marvel, the Taj Mahal, but despite repeated warnings, the state government has failed to control pollution, tap the hundreds of drains and ‘nalas’ (drains), shift dhobhi ghats, and restrain polluters who openly discharge industrial effluents in the river.
“Back in 2013, the prime minister had promised to revive the Yamuna. Later, Nitin Gadkari on many occasions had promised to start ferry service between Delhi and Agra for tourists, but not one baby step has been taken. Though plans for a construction of a barrage have been announced on several occasions, but once elected, they all forget their promises,” says environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya.
Mathura MP and cine star Hema Malini herself had pleaded with the government to clean up Yamuna and release water from upstream barrages, but nothing has been done so far.
The overall condition of religious shrines in Mathura and Vrindavan has gone from bad to worse despite the Braj Teerth Development Parishad specially constituted by the Yogi Adityanath government.
Braj Foundation chief Vineet Narain accuses the powers that be for destroying the soul of Braj mandal.
“The holy Kunds, the green patches, the makeover of shrines, which the Braj Foundation had done so meticulously and with so much love and Bhakti, are all in a state of shambles,” he says.
On numerous occasions, these gaps and flaws have been brought to the notice of the government but a wall of apathy and extreme insensitivity has prevented any remedial discourse or action, Narain adds.