19 years on, water woes continue to haunt Taj cityMay 21st, 2012 - 2:29 pm ICT by IANS
Agra, May 21 (IANS) Nineteen years after many people died in a water tragedy that struck the Taj city, residents of Agra continue to battle water pollution in the Yamuna river and suffer health hazards caused by the municipal water supply.
On the morning of May 21, 1993, 21 people in Ghatia of the Khatik Pada area in Agra died after drinking water from municipal taps. A committee set up to investigate the deaths said the water was highly contaminated.
Subsequently, senior Congress party leaders who visited the city and the then Governor Moti Lal Vora promised jobs and financial support to the families of the victims.
“They had also promised a much-needed barrage on the Yamuna river and upgrading facilities at the two water works in the city. But not a single promise was fulfilled,” says a resident of the Khatik Pada.
To highlight the grim situation in Agra, activists Monday organised a clean-up on the banks of the Yamuna in the city.
“We want the government to see the condition of the river and the water supplied by the Agra Water Works. Their lop-sided priorities are a matter of concern,” Shravan Kumar Singh, convener of the Rivers of the World Foundation, told IANS.
“Instead of safe drinking water for the people, they are discussing a new airport in the Agra region and a new Express Highway from Lucknow to Agra. These can wait but not adequate and safe water supply provision,” Singh stressed.
The municipal water tanks in the city are in the most unhygienic condition as cleaning them is not a priority of the local bodies. “Often, dead bodies of animals have been found rotting in some tanks,” said Pavan, an activist.
The Agra Water Works officials, however, say they are helpless as there is no fresh water in Yamuna. “We are only recycling and processing industrial effluents and sewer waste from upstream cities of Haryana and Delhi,” said an official.
Agra’s water needs have increased with its population, but no new arrangement has been made to augment the water supply. “With the Yamuna Action Plan-1 (YAP-1) having flopped, focus is now on YAP-II with Japanese support,” said a municipal official.
“The water tanks need urgent cleaning and repairs. To augment water availability in Yamuna more water from the Ganga and its canals should be released. Only additional release of water can flush out the pollutants,” said Bankey Lal Maheshwari, chief of Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa that provides free water to the poor in the city.
“Perhaps they are waiting for another tragedy,” wondered Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, an organisation demanding recognition of the Yamuna as a national heritage river.
- Taj city's daily struggle for water - May 25, 2011
- Agra prays for Yamuna floods to wash away garbage - May 24, 2011
- Hundreds join Save Yamuna rally in Agra - Mar 27, 2011
- 'Recognise Yamuna as heritage entity' (April 18 is World Heritage Day) - Apr 17, 2011
- Hundreds of eco-activists clean up Yamuna - Mar 18, 2012
- What happened to money spent on Yamuna, ask activists - Aug 26, 2012
- Agra's unique Jal Sewaks return - May 16, 2011
- Prayers on banks of flooded Yamuna in Agra - Aug 29, 2010
- Yamuna clean-up operation begins in Taj city - Apr 20, 2012
- Good Samaritans bring warmth to Agra's shelterless - Jan 01, 2011
- Helping hands spread warmth among Agra poor - Nov 30, 2011
- Agra battles water crisis as Yamuna is highly polluted - Jan 17, 2011
- Yamuna, Chambal rivers in spate - Aug 25, 2012
- Taj city hopes for cleaner, greener 2011 - Dec 30, 2010
- Yamuna nears danger mark in Agra - Aug 28, 2010
Tags: city residents, congress party, dead bodies, haryana, health hazards, industrial effluents, municipal water supply, new express, nineteen years, party leaders, rivers of the world, safe drinking water, vora, water needs, water pollution, water tanks, water woes, water works, world foundation, yamuna river