Agra: Hundreds of
activists, students and senior citizens walked along the banks of
the bone-dry river Yamuna in Agra Sunday in a symbolic rally to
highlight the grave threat to the Taj Mahal from a dry river bed.
They also resolved to continue their campaign till the governments
in Lucknow and Delhi announced a concrete and time-bound programme
to save the dying river.
The rally came on the concluding day of the World Water Day week.
"Wake Up, Agra" president Shishir Gupta told IANS: "The march has
been organised to send out a strong message to the powers that be
that the Taj Mahal is indeed in danger. The dry river, reduced to
a virtual sewage canal, is carrying toxic material and highly
polluted water that is eating into the foundation of this
magnificent 17th century structure. If no steps were taken
urgently, the Taj could be in real danger."
The march was joined by half a dozen organisations and citizens'
groups to sensitise people towards the water problem, polluted
rivers and streams, disappearing ponds and the generally lax
attitude of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board officials
"The river is indeed in a very bad shape, hardly recognisable. We
have long been demanding heritage status for the Yamuna which is a
rich treasure of culture, architecture, Sri Krishna-Radha lore,
golden period of history, arts, navigation and just about
everything that makes for a civilised society," said Surendra
Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation
"The Yamuna in Agra is without water, and right at the rear of the
Taj Mahal, it is stinking nullah," said Shravan Kumar Singh, an
Shravan Singh added: "We have sent a petition to Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav with ten demands. We want a barrage
downstream of the Taj Mahal, and dismantling of the controversial
Taj corridor. The Supreme Court has already asked the Forest
department to green it. But resource crunch is proving to be a
major hurdle. The Yamuna urgently needs a war-like operation to
de-silt and dredge the river bed to open up the aquifers that are
choked due to polythene and chemicals wastes discharged by
industries in Delhi and Haryana."