The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
72 People On Hunger Strike For The Yamuna
By: Radha Jivan Poddar
for chakra.org on April 30, 2011
Photo Credits: cs.nga.gov.au
A group of farmers led by Bhanu Pratap Singh, head of the Kisan Union ( Farmers Union ) of Mathura and devotees from different areas of Braj are demonstrating at the Jantar Mantar Grounds in New Delhi since April 15th.
Among those present are Radha Jivan das of ISKCON Alachua, who has helped in organizing and funding this rally at the behest of Sri Ramesh Baba of Barsana.
This group of dedicated devotees is sleeping on the Delhi sidewalks without any toilet and other facilities for shelter from the sun and rain since April 15th.
72 people have been on a hunger strike since the 16th of April.
About 40 devotees of ISKCON Delhi also attended and did kirtan at the site in a show of support.
An open letter of appeal has been sent to the President of India and Prime Minister of India demanding they immediately issue public notices stating the actual condition of the Yamuna beyond Delhi.
Respected Madame President and Mr. Prime Minister,
We are here in Delhi after a long march of 900 kilometers from Allahabad to Delhi. On April 14, we met with Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Sri Salman Kurshid and were given promises of consideration and later, on the 15th, acknowledgement of the legitimacy of our demands that there should be an increased supply of water in the Yamuna for towns and cities beyond New Delhi.
You are the guardians of the Constitution of India, so for us to cite the Constitution to you as we present our case once again is like offering the Yamuna water back to the Yamuna in supplication.
This is unfortunately necessary, however, as we find that our requests in respect to the legislation and rulings referred to below are not receiving timely or due notice from those whose duty it is to uphold them.
Article 21A of the Constitution of India gives every citizen the right to pollution-free water and air. Furthermore:
In the Subash Kumar Case, the Court said that the right to life includes the right to enjoyment of pollution-free water and air for full enjoyment of life.
The D.D. Vyas v Ghaziabad Development Authority Case (1993) added that “[i]f anything endangers or impairs that quality of life in derogation of laws, a citizen has the right to have recourse to Art. 32 of the Constitution for removing the pollution of water or air which may be detrimental to the quality of life.”145
The Supreme Court held in Virendra Gaur and others v State of Haryana (1995) that “Environmental, ecological, air, water pollution, etc., should be regarded as amounting to violation of Article 21.”
There are other specific High Court rulings as well. Since these are not being upheld: it is imperative that the Government immediately and on an emergency basis inform the people of India that the water of the Yamuna is unfit for human consumption.
We implore you to stand true to your principles and obligations as protectors of our Nation and us, its citizens, to issue an immediate alert on the condition of the water in the Yamuna beyond Delhi.
57 million citizens of India depend on the Yamuna.
80 crore yatris visit Vrindavan and Mathura each year. Sipping and bathing in the Yamuna is integral to their faith.
Local residents of these holy cities practice the ritual of daily bath and achaman (sipping) of Yamuna water as per their custom for generations and inevitably fall ill.
Sacred deities in temples in Vrindavan and Mathura are bathed in this water.
At the time of death, Yamuna water put into people’s mouths to help them in the afterlife.
Certain festivals in these holy towns necessitate ritual bath, for instance, on Bhai Dhooj thousands of brothers and sisters take their bath in the Yamuna in Mathura.
They must be made aware that the water is only the untreated sewage of Delhi and hazardous to their health. They need to understand that it is but Delhi sewage, 3,296 MLD (million litres per day) worth and not the sacred purifying water of Yamuna.
Signboards should be put up at all the ghats in Vrindavan and Mathura, advising people of the health dangers of these practices, just as they are on tobacco and ghutka packets.
Please note that these are not merely religious views: the Yamuna is an integral part of the secular Indian identity as proclaimed in our National Anthem.
We feel it is your immediate obligation to put the truth of the matter before the people of India: that the water at the ghats is a contaminated pool of standing water, full of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis elements and poses a severe threat to their health and well being.
Further, as it also seeps into the ground water used by local population along the Yamuna, they need to be notified at once and more so because it is now summer when the water table falls to a level that causes even more contamination and subsequently disease and death, to those who are not informed.
We look to you to look to your consciences and, at a very minimum, issue the health warnings until you take the necessary action that we are demanding.
For this we are willing to stay here in Delhi, at the Jantar Mantar grounds, without food, water or shelter, so that our fellow citizens may rightfully enjoy what is outlined in Article 21A of the constitution of India: The right to pollution-free water and air.
Radha Jivan Poddar
For more information please visit: www.brajdhamsewa.org