Apex Court Directs Government To Clean The Yamuna River Bed In Agra “Expeditiously”

Apex Court Directs Government To Clean The Yamuna River Bed In Agra “Expeditiously”

Agra, April 24 (TNA) The Supreme Court has directed the central government agencies to remove silt, garbage, and sludge from the Yamuna river bed in Agra. The order said that the river bed should be de-silted and all filth removed expeditiously.

"If no steps have been taken till now, then immediate steps are required to be taken," the bench hearing a petition by senior advocate KC Jain said. If required the centre may take the help of an expert agency, the two-member bench said.

The judges said, "river cleaning should be a continuous process." The union government and the UP government as also the Agra Development Authority, have been directed to file affidavits on the steps taken so far. The judges said the government agencies should clarify which "bodies shall be under obligation to clear the silt, garbage, and sludge from the river bed of Yamuna River."

The agencies have been asked to file affidavits by July 11 on the issue. The petition was filed by the Agra Development Foundation, after a committee headed by the district magistrate and the local Archaeological Survey of India, had recommended desilting and dredging, particularly after bacterial attacks on the Taj Mahal. The petitioner K C Jain pointed out that since 2015 the pools of polluted water on the river bed had turned into breeding grounds for bacteria damaging the white marble surface of the world heritage monument.

Desilting of the river bed on a priority has become necessary from the Kailash temple to the Taj Mahal, the urban segment, not only to revive the river but also to open up the choked aquifers which were preventing percolation of the water, KC Jain said. The Supreme Court initiative opens the window of hope for a dying river, say members of the River Connect Campaign who have been continuously demanding cleaning of the river before the construction of a barrage downstream of the Taj Mahal.

Right now, the river has been reduced to a sickly sewage canal. Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari had in 2015 and 2016 promised to start a tourist ferry service from Delhi to Agra, but the project could never start. The river is not navigable and there is not enough water in several stretches. In the urban segments downstream of Delhi, the sludge and shallow water simply make navigation impossible.

The apex court seems serious in intent. People in Agra are upbeat. Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally on Thursday, this initiative comes as a relief, as the plight of the river Yamuna was in focus and locals were demanding an explanation why even after promising to clean up the river in 2014, the central government had failed to take any concrete measure to rejuvenate Yamuna in the Braj area.

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