Historical Foot March for protection of Yamuna Ji About 2,00,000 people will voice against the negligent attitude of the Government over the issue of purification of Yamuna ji Time has come for us to give honor our great Indian heritage by the protection and preservation of the most famous and sacred landmark of India, the river Yamuna, the playground of Lord Krishna, which is glorified throughout the Puranas. She is presently being neglected, abused, and destroyed in these so-called modern times. A great opportunity is at hand where all the diverse, conscious, andcaring parties must unite under a common banner of concern. The present crisis especially concentrates on the 22 mile stretch where the Yamuna traverses through Delhi, where due to lack of proper sanitation, raw sewagefrom over 200 million people, chemical wastes from 20,000 large and small industries, domestic garbage and plastic are dumped into this cultural tributary. Toxin levels in the water before Delhi are at a normal 500 mg/l(milligrams per liter) and after passing through this city a phenomenal 97 million, in other words, by government classification, the Yamuna, completely contaminated, is now a‘dead’ river.
Under the inspiration of Shri Ramesh Baba Maharaja, Maan Mandir has now taken up the task to act against this great calamity. To initiate this effort, a historical ‘pada yatra’for the protection and preservation of the Yamuna will commence from Allahabad on the 2nd of March reachingDelhi on 15th of April. For 45 days a non-stop harinama party will walk along the banks of the Yamuna from Allahabad to New Delhi. Around 5,000 people will participate en route to Mathura, and 20,000 are expected to join on the course to Delhi. On the 15th the yatra will reach the city at Jantar Mantar, amidst a rally of 200,000 partakers. It has been decided that the demonstration would turn into a ‘dharna’(a protest sit in), which will be protracted if the Government does not accept the required demands presented for the Yamuna purification. Shri Ramesh Baba Maharaja has stated “A historical yatra is starting from Allahabad to New Delhi with non-stop 24 hour kirtan for 45 days.
Our previous victory in the battle for the preservation of the sacred hills of Brajabhumi was just because of this sankirtan, we were victorious over the government and so many works in Brajabhumi were performed by us as various ponds were restored. All this work has been fruitful only because of the sankirtan, therefore on this Yamuna yatra, because of this yajna, this very work of the Yamuna purification will be successful. A greatly impossible task will be possible only because of this sankirtan. It is not that we will win this battle for the Yamuna, we have already won this battle.” The yatra is a joint effort by Maan Mandir and ‘Bhartiya Kisan Union’ in which farmers and devotees from all parts of the country will come and participate, a response and outrage against the horrifying state of Yamuna ji. The party will visit most of the villages, towns, and cities situated on the bank of the river. Public meetings, conferences and satsangas will be organized at various places where the purification and safeguard issue of this sacred watercourse will be discussed to promote a mass public awareness.
All the contributing yatris in the yatra will be given all facilities food, lodging, boarding, and medical transport free of cost. Important agendas to be discussed and implemented:
1. Promulgation of an ordinance by the Parliament to provide for a provisional minimum flow of 10 / 20 cumecs downstream o f Wazirabad /Okhla Barrage. This has been also recommended by A. Supreme Court appointed High Powered Committee (1998) (Appendix 5) B. Water Quality Modeling experts for YAP II (2007) C. Central Pollution Control Board Affidavit.26-4-1999.
2. At least 3 days in a month in the lean season months of November till May the river be allowed to run free (all along its length) of all the Barrages on it. It has been seen (based on analysis of mean monthly flows in the river since 1961 accessed using RTI Act) that the river was fine till there was flow in it in its lean season months, a situation that existed in the river till early nineteen seventies. Such flow while on one hand helps dilute pollution in the river, on the other facilitates a continuous sub surface flow in the river, recharging ground water and adding to the surface flow at places in the river. It has also been observed that when there is good flow in the river its impact stays over a number of days beyond the full flow period. Letting the river flow unfettered for just three days in a month should not be a problem with the managers of the existing water abstraction structures on the river. But such an action might prove extremely critical for the maintenance of adequate water regime in the river and benefit as well the people dependent downstream on it. (Every year in monsoons the various canals are shut down for days together. The states that these canals feed do manage without them, then).
3. Constitution of a statutorily empowered and fully enabled executive body with basin wide jurisdiction. Fortunately, in the “Yamuna River Development Authority” (YRDA) as created under the Prime Minister’s authority by the Cabinet Secretariat on 24 August 2007 lies the seed of the creation of a Central agency with jurisdiction (including penal powers) over the entire river basin area in the states of UKH, HP, Haryana, UP, Delhi, Rajasthan and MP. It is notable that one of the mandates of the YRDA is to “suggest the design for a statutory framework”. (Appendix 1) This committee should have access to the PM to provide their report in the event they see that the implementation is not going according to plan. The committee should comprise of NGOs, environmentalists, ecologists and civil society groups.. Moratorium on any new abstraction scheme (dams, barrage, canal etc) on the river or any of its tributaries till such agency has reviewed any such plans including conduct of comprehensive and fully inclusive RISK analysis including their (water abstraction schemes) cumulative impact if any on the river proper.
4. Promulgate the River Regulation Zone (RRZ) notification under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. It has been seen that for lack of legal protection available to river bed and flood plains, encroachments of all kinds and environmentally incompatible land use changes in them are rampant in Delhi, Mathura, Vrindavan and in Agra.
5. Redirect city’s wastewater away from the river into STPs and further for irrigation purposes from all the major cities on Yamuna (Yamuna nagar; Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat, Delhi, NOIDA, Faridabad, Mathura, Agra and Etawah) Waste water drains originating west of the river in Delhi should be made to drain into a canal running alongside (and under the ring road where required) parallel to the river and meet directly the Agra Canal Presently the 22 km length of the river in its urban stretch in NCT of Delhi is being used only as a drainage and passage way for the sewage and other waste waters of Delhi (brought in from 18 drains originating from the city) to be ultimately released into the Agra Canal from the storage at the Okhla Barrage. This near pondage of sewage waters between the Wazirabad and the Okhla Barrage for almost 9 months of the year results on one hand in creation of a delusion of the river still being in place in the city but on the other results in avoidable pollution of ground water with toxic elements. It is directed by the High Powered Committee created by The Supreme Court of India that a canal (or even a pipe line) of requisite capacity (around 50 cumecs) running all along the outer ring road between Wazirabad and Okhla parallel to the river should take away the waste waters to meet directly the Agra Canal taking the water away for irrigation purposes. .
6. Maximizing utilization of existing treatment facilities of sewage treatment plants in Delhi and other polluting towns and cities. Since, the operations of all STPs have been handed over to Local Municipalities there is little or no interest in running them, leave alone running them efficiently. Lack of Funds, inconsistent electricity, heavy power bills, pilferage of diesel for electricity generators all add up to little or no functioning of these STPs entrusted to local governing bodies. The Central Government on the lines of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) should create a central body which takes over the functioning of all Sewage Pumping and Treatment in all of India and directly manage and fund them. A lot of Sewage Treatment Capacity of Delhi lies underutilized. Efficient pumping and rerouting of pipelines can achieve a lot of water cleaning in the Yamunaji.
7. Improving monitoring standards and fixing liabilities. On line monitoring facilities and equipments should be installed in this age of high speed data transfers where every village is connected and yet a simple link between Sewage Treatment Plants and its monitoring bodies like pollution control boards, Environment Ministry, NGOs and other stake holders is not established yet.
8. The Government should make discharging of untreated effluent into rivers a culpable offence requiring a minimum prison sentence and officials who fail to check such offences be charged with collusion in crime as accessories. Please one and all instead of just watching a sad history pass us by, let us join together and make a spiritual history in a rectification in the condition of the Yamuna.
If we serve dharma then all our individual concerns materially and spiritually will flourish, you will be benefitted and the Sri Yamunaji willquickly return to Her pristine glory, and as Shri Ramesh baba maharaja has declared,“There is no greater sacrifice than this Yamuna seva”.
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