Sunday, October 14, 2007

Save Yamuna

Yamuna is an important river in the northen plains of India. Historically it remains one of the earliest of settlements in the northern plains. Though the river changed it course over a period of time, its importance to the people in and around remained unchanged. In fact starting the period of Mahabharata when Pandavas were ruling over Indraprasta, Yamuna fed them. Continuous habitation is found in the Purana Quila region for more than 2000-3000 years. The river was then flowing very close to the Purana Quila fort. In facts the moat of the fort was connected to river Yamuna. Settlements unearthed in the excavation in the surrounding areas include Mauryan, Khushan, Gupta, Sultanate and the Mughuls. This has been the importance of Yamuna. Now Jamuna is pathetic. It is not less than any big industrial sewer, filthy and dying. Hope was still there because during good monsoon, the river would still become full bodied and brings in a lot of alluvium from the Himalayan heights. Therefore cultivation in the flood plains of Yamuna has been a rewarding activity for farmers in the region.
Despite knowing the significance of the river and its flood plains, the government has decided to build stadiums and spots complex in the flood plains of Jamuna. It is sad that for the prestige of hosting Commonwealth sports, the government is rushing into something as brainless as this. Once the flood plains are occupied by concrete structures, there will be no more cultivation and the precious alluvium is wasted. Besides, given the flow of alluvium, there is going to be regular flooding and silting in the region. Then the situation will be akin to that of Mumbai and Bangalore where encroachments and mindless filling up of water bodies has led to the annual flooding during monsoons.
Apart from this the flood plains also help in recharging the ground water table. Being sandy and porous, these plains play a crucial role in recharging ground water table. Once concrete structures are up in the place of sandy plains, there will be no recharging and the already diminishing water table will dry up in no time.
There have been continuous protests against this project since its inception. Fasting, sit ins and demonstrations have been organised by different parties, but the government is still sleeping over it. Surprisingly even in a democratic country like India, there is hardly any response from the government, except intimidating the protestors. The protestors are being threatened, intimidated but by and large they concerns are not being addressed by the government.
If only the state could understand the gravity of the situation and construction could be stopped.

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