Tuesday, January 29, 2008

UN intervention sought to save Yamuna

AGRA-BASED social and environmental activist Brij Khandelwal expressed concern that Taj corridor was the biggest threat to river Yamuna, which needed water. He deplored that Agra had been denied its share of river water that was held up in four upstream barrages, which needed to be opened to let out fresh water.

In a memorandum submitted to the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, he said, “The lifeline of the city river Yamuna has been rendered unfit for human beings. The poisonous and toxic water, flowing down the river without treatment and neutralisation, constitutes a grave danger to the aqua life and agriculture.” Almost 40 to 50 per cent of Delhi’s sewage is drained into Yamuna untreated.

According to him, “Despite repeated requests and reminders to various government agencies, nothing concrete has been done and no remedial measures initiated to contain the pollution in the river.” The chemical effluents and other toxic contaminants from industries in Delhi, and cities of Haryana are being directly released in the river and despite instructions from the courts, the concerned authorities have failed to take any preventive steps.

“The ill-conceived and incomplete Taj corridor project – nobody’s baby right now and used more as a political football by various interest groups – is another major source of pollution in the river, as the site is being callously used to dump solid wastes which during the rains, find way to the river that is already saturated with pollutants,” added Khandelwal.

In the past few years, there have been half a dozen cases of lakhs of fish dying in the river. The water that people in Agra drink is hazardous to health. A decade ago, 17 people in Khatikpara area died of drinking water supplied by Agra Water Works.

Khandelwal expressed concern that the Supreme Court of India had no time or inclination to dispose off the case pending before it, nor did it respond to demands to dismantle and clear the debris from the corridor. All the bodies are simply passing the buck, citing resources crunch as the excuse for not doing anything to resolve the imbroglio.

He strongly feels there is a conspiracy of state government agencies and perhaps the Delhi government agencies to use the river as an agent of Yamaraj to finish off the "unwanted population." Otherwise, how can one explain such dilly-dallying and insensitivity on the part of those at the helm of affairs?

Therefore, he sought the UN commissioner for Human Right’s intervention. He felt that it was a fit case for trial as the fundamental right to dissent and safe living conditions was being denied to the millions of people.

Corrupt people in the government have been overlooking demands of the locals to restore original ponds and streams and clean up rivers. High-rise buildings have come up on public ponds. Even the high courts have begun dragging their feet on such vital issues.

The water crisis in Agra is greatly compounded by the construction of four barrages upstream of Agra. River Yamuna has been reduced to a virtual drain, and for most part of the year, there is no water.

The dry riverbed is a serious threat to the heritage monument, the Taj Mahal. Government’s attention has been repeatedly drawn to this problem, but unfortunately the concerned agencies have shown utter insensitivity.

“Since the state government and its agencies have proved incapable and ineffective and the political bosses have shown utter lack of sincerity and determination, the International Human Rights Organisation must act in the matter and pull up those responsible for violation of right to good living. Concerned authorities have to be hauled up and tried,” emphasised Khandelwal.


Source: http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp;jsessionid=CAB43DAE8F6065A4E8FE6A64C989D8AB?articleID=129762



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