Hindu priests to boycott Uttar Pradesh polls

Mathura: Hindu priests in Uttar Pradesh have threatened to boycott elections to register their protest against government’s laxity in cleaning the River Yamuna, which is revered by them.

Priests in Mathura took to the streets on Tuesday, saying that they would vote only for those who took up
the issue of cleaning of the river.

"For the past twenty five years, anybody who stands for the elections assures the people that Yamuna would be
 cleaned. Till now millions of rupees have been siphoned off in the name of Yamuna’s cleaning, but I feel more the money the government spends the river gets more and more dirty. No attention has been paid to this problem," said Mahesh Chand Sharma, the president of a priests association in Mathura.

Hindus regard the Yamnua as a holy river, but it has the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted rivers in India. Yamuna is intimately connected to Hindu God Lord Krishna’s boyhood antics.

The Yamuna originates from the Yamunotri Glacier in the Mussourie range of the lower Himalayas and traverses through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi for a distance of 1370 kms.

In Mathura and neighbouring areas, there are about 5,000 temples and lakhs of people throng this region throughout the year. But in the absence of sound sewerage disposal system, the solid and liquid waste from these places find its way to the Yamuna.

But local municipal authorities claimed they are putting their acts together.

"These drains have been there for the past ten years. But now we have assured the people that our staff is working towards getting them closed. We have got the necessary permission and within five days we will definitely get these drains closed," said Yogesh Kumar Dwivedi, Chairman of the Municipal Corporation of Mathura.

A major pollutant of Yamuna is the national capital New Delhi. It alone contributes 3,296 MLD (million litres per day) of sewage falling into the river.

Another major contributor of pollution to the river is the illegal settlements along the banks. Some 3.5 lakh people live  in the 62,000 shanties that have come up on the riverbed and its embankment.

Rapid urbanization of Delhi has further compounded the pressure on the sewerage system. With the population of the national capital going up from 0.4 million in 1911 to 13.9 million in 2001, there is an ever-increasing pressure on the water resources.

The federal government has launched a Yamuna Action Plan to clean up the river, with a plan being implemented in 21 towns on its course in Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in the first phase.

(ANI)

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