for The Times of India on March 25, 2011
KANPUR: Hundreds of `sadhus' from Braj Mandal, `bhakts' of Lord Krishna, farmers, environmentalists and residents of Etawah participated in a `padyatra' to save the Yamuna from pollution.
The march which started from Allahabad on March 3, covered Kaushambi, Fatehpur, Kanpur and Auraiyya to reached Etawah on Tuesday.
A dharna will be held at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on April 15 to highlight the issue.
Holding placards and banners, the `patyatris' assembled on the banks of Yamuna in Etawah and sang `bhajans' and `kirtans' in order to gather support for the cause.
"Yamuna, considered as a pious in mythology, is now counted among the most polluted rivers in India," said Bhanu Pratap Singh, president Bhartiya Kisan Union, Mathura. Delhi alone contributes around 3,296 mld (million litres per day) of sewage in the form of drains which fall into the river. Lakhs of people are living in the slums on the banks of Yamuna river, he said. Shortage of sewage treatment plants and lack of sanitation facilities in Delhi are responsible for polluting the Yamuna. The problem is further compounded by lack of minimum perennial fresh water flow in the river along the stretch starting from Wazirabad, Singh added.
Addressing a gathering, Jai Krishna Das, a saint of Barsana, urged the people to join hands in saving the Yamuna.
"Our motive is to ensure maximum participation of people in the save river Yamuna campaign. We are covering villages and cities located on the banks of river Yamuna for the task. And it will only be possible when the people from every section of society join hands," said Das.
"The Centre and the Delhi government should come forward and take initiative to open Wazirabad bandh. A kisan panchayat is to be held in Agra on April 1. If the authorities fail to take initiative, we will be forced to take some decision in the sit-in at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on April 15. The people from all walks of life should come forward and protect Yamuna otherwise it will be a history," Singh added.