On the occasion of Gokulashtami I thought this would be a relevant post. Did you know that the United Nations website (UN-HABITAT) has declared that the Yamuna River – considered sacred by millions of Hindus worldwide for its mythological connection to Lord Krishna – is now officially ‘dead’ downstream of New Delhi?
Studies have reportedly shown that 97% of the water from the Yamuna has been diverted away from its natural riverbed before it reaches New Delhi. A report compiled in 2006 by the Central Pollution Control Board, a federal agency, stated there is “almost no fresh water in the river” from Delhi on.
It’s not that there is a dearth of concerned voices. Interestingly, religious and ecological leaders representing Hindu and other NGO organizations abroad have petitioned Indian Embassies in their respective countries including Washington D.C., London and Brussels expressing concern over the deadly levels of pollution affecting the Yamuna.
Thousands of pilgrims from around the world who visit the Yamuna annually also face tremendous health risks, the petition states referring to a May 27, 2012 report in The Hindu about two pilgrims, a mother and daughter, who died, and other family members fell ill, while bathing in the Yamuna near Vrindavan, UP. After entering the river and apparently sipping the water, they started vomiting. Although rushed to the district hospital, the mother and daughter died soon after.
Despite a Supreme Court ruling (that sewage should be diverted away from the Yamuna and be treated; and that the states through which the river flows should maintain a constant and adequate flow of natural water to protect and preserve its ecology), the Government / authorities concerned, have done little to clean up the river, according to the petition.
Talking of sanctity of rivers, here’s a thought that has nothing to do with religion: World over, the biggest and most popular cities have all been built either on the banks of a river or have a river flowing right through them. The Thames of London, the Seine in Paris, the Hudson and the East River in New York City, all throw up iconic images of magnificent skylines. But India, with all its glorious rivers, cannot boast of a single city that sees its reflection in a clean, flowing river.
By the way, can someone here in Mumbai tell me where I can locate the Mithi River?