Heritage status, separate authority demanded for Yamuna

January 5th, 2009 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Jan 5 (IANS) People’s representatives, NGOs, environmental activists and pollution experts from Agra and its surrounding areas in Uttar Pradesh at a conference here have demanded heritage status and a separate authority for the Yamuna river. In a resolution passed unanimously late Sunday evening, the conference demanded that a Yamuna Authority be set up to take over the responsibility of keeping the river clean.

“The ineffective and corrupt Jal Nigam (Water Corporation) of Uttar Pradesh after so many action plans and spending almost Rs. 1,000 crore (Rs.10 billion) has failed to show any tangible results,” the resolution said.

The conference was organised by Rivers of the World Foundation and Yamuna Foundation for Blue Water, with speakers calling for greater involvement of the local population in saving a natural asset on which the life and health of millions of people depended.

Subijoy Dutta, an environmental scientist working in the US with the American Environmental Protection Agency, said he was shocked to find from his survey that the open drains in Mathura, Vrindavan and Agra were still discharging large quantities of untreated waste directly into the river.

Ram Koduri, who worked with the Chicago sanitation and waterways system as consultant, said there was need to change the cultural habits and the mindset of the people. “The rivers are valuable assets and not sewer lines. Drastic measures should be taken to curb further pollution,” he said.

A representative from the Braj Rakshak Dal in Vrindavan shared how they had been able to bring about discernible changes in their area, a key Hindu pilgrimage spot.

“Government agencies are now responding and the local people too have begun to get involved. Yamuna is not just a supplier of water but also a goddess worshipped by millions. It is therefore necessary to involve the pilgrims and the seers and saints of the area to sensitise the people,” he said.

Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society president Surendra Sharma called for fixing the share of downstream cities in the river waters, as he claimed currently all the water is kept for the use of people of Delhi and Haryana and they only got “waste and sewage.”

The conference decided to set up an Awareness Centre in Agra and start a river cleaning programme from early March.

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