April 23, 2011
Mathura, 2011.04.23 (VT): The demonstration and fast at the Jantar Mantar grounds in Delhi are quickly becoming quite a source of discomfort for the government.
The outcry of Brajbhumi’s devotees against the Yamuna’s condition has begun to reverberate around India. The government has been trying to defuse the movement by talking to its leaders at the Jantar Mantar grounds in Delhi, and yesterday some agreement was reached with regard to the release of more water into the Yamuna on a limited number of days per month. But this has not yet satisfied the activists, who come from both the devotional and agricultural communities.
The padayatra against the pollution of the Yamuna that began on March 1 from Allahabad at the sangam with the Ganga present a ten point list of demands to the government on April 13, but to little effect. This was followed by a fast to the death, with some 50 devotees and farmers participating.
On the instruction of Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, and the Water Minister Salman Khurshid, and the Rural Development Minister Pradip Jain, as well as UP Congress secretary Rita Joshi Bahuguna were all sent to placate the demonstrators.
The government proposed a standing committee to investigate the Yamuna situation, with the obvious intention of getting the demonstrators to stop their hunger strike and leave Delhi. The demonstrators did stop their fast, but they have decided not to leave the Jantar Mantar grounds.
This has made the central government ministers uneasy, but they are unable to make any firm commitments due to pressure from the Haryana and Delhi governments, who are loathe to give up any of their portion of the Yamuna waters.
Meanwhile, back in the Braja area, the cry of “save the Yamuna” is taking on the allure of a mass movement, with more and more organizations taking an active role in publicly pressing the various levels of government to take action.
According to the organizer of the march on Delhi, Sant Jai Krishna Das Maharaj (Yadavji) and Bhanu Pratap Singh of the BKU (Bhanu), demonstrations for the Yamuna are now taking place in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bihar.
Meanwhile, back in Mathura, most activists are happy that the government has made some response to the marchers in Delhi. But they are happy to remark that the movement, which previously had been limited to the Braj area alone has now started to spread outside the region.
Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi, who has been fighting courtcases for the cleansing of Yamuna pollution since 1999, expressed happiness that the government was finally starting to pay attention.
“But the High Court ruled many years ago that there should be a fairer partitioning of the water. Mathura is supposed to get 22% and Haryana 65%,” he said. “If that ruling had been followed, there would have been no need for any padayatra.”
Kalindi Sewa Sansthan organizer Gopalacharya also praised the marchers and said that pressure has been building not just on the Center but on the local administration also.
State director of the Tirtha Purohit Mahasangh Kantanath Chaturvedi said that thousands of people have flocked to the Save Yamuna movement, but the response from the Central Government has still been insufficient.
The Braj Environment Protection Society said that the assurances given by the government are disappointing. General secretary Ramdas Chaturvedi said that increasing the amount of water in the Yamuna does not put an end to the problems. He said that the society had put together a team of 50 scientists to put together a technical plan which will present its report to the government in June through the National River Conservation Plan.
Meanwhile, a large group of sadhus and sants is expected to meet to discuss action for the Yamuna under the leadership of the Vishwa Sanatan Dharma Rakshak Dal (World Sanatan Dharma Protection Party) on April 27 at Gandhi Park in Mathura. Vitthalesh Maharaj of the Gopal Peeth is directing the preparations.
Invited guests include Shankaracharya Madhavashram Maharaj, Ramdevananda Maharaj, Vidyananda Maharaj, Phuldol Dasji Maharaj, and goswamis from the Pushti Marg. It is hoped that the blessings of the sants will lend increased impetus to the movement and bring it to a successful end.