Unique Plan by Villagers for Cleaning Yamuna River at Mathura-the dynamism of a Government Official:
The successful cleaning initiative of river Hindon has brought back the migratory birds there. I am making mention of this river, because the gentleman, who initiated the cleaning process for Hindon (in Ghaziabad-U.P) and brought down the pollution level, is now posted at Mathura District Headquarters, where he has taken up the near-impossible task of cleaning the holy river Yamuna. He is Dr. Ajay Shanker Pandey.
He is employing the same action plan for Yamuna. What he did for river Hindon was:
- Barring people from disposing of religious ornamentations like flower garlands in the river. Chemically painted statues will no more be immersed in this river and so is the case with industrial affluent and chemical wastes.
- Prevent washer men from using river ghats.
- Prevent people from defecating in the open along the river banks.
- Creation of Havan Kund for disposal of the religious material, by employing vehicles for collecting material from each temple. Special Pooja Material collection vehicles were deployed as per a systematic plan. They were specially designed as per Hindu religious faith. The vehicles were painted vermilion. Special bins were kept at the city temples. People were encouraged to visit the disposal site for gaining confidence. Even the Muslims and Christians appreciated this arrangement.
- Put up nets in the river to catch the waste if any.
- Creation or ghats for washing cloths and building modern toilets at suitable places.
- Fencing of the river done at appropriate places. Strict measures have been taken to prevent people from throwing garbage, polythene bags etc. Iron nets of more than 10 ft. will be erected to prevent people from throwing flower garlands etc. into the river.
- Creation of a special River Sanitation Force with expert boatmen to clear the river of water weeds, which reduce the level of oxygen in the river. With weeds the river flow gets affected and many biotic creatures disappear in the long run.
- Local councilors and business houses have adopted a part of the river bank, popularly known as ghats for maintenance and development.
Dr. Pandey has excellent record for environmental protection, and now he has been appointed as the Nodal Officer for Yamuna cleaning program by Uttar Pradesh Government. Yamuna flows through nine districts of this State.
River Yamuna is a big and long river and this is a tough assignment, going by the outcome of the previous efforts of various government agencies to clean it. Delhi Government’s plan to control pollution in the river water ended in a fiasco, after the government spentRs.8720 million. This has been stated in the latest report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
Here is an official who has succeeded in enlisting mass support. He is aware of the miracles that are possible with enthusiasm at the grassroots level for this holy cleaning project. The villagers of Rajpaura, a village near Vrindavan, the sacred township in Mathura District, have volunteered support to save Yamuna Ji as they hail the river reverentially, from pollutants and make its water potable. Dr. Pandey has succeeded in garnishing support from 73 villages in the district as well. This is going to be one of the biggest public initiatives. Rightly Dr. Pandey has been given the designation of Mathura’s Chief Development Officer. People remember him as the man who changed the profile of one of the most polluted river Hindon!
This dying river has some hope now. This is one of the holiest rivers for the Hindus. A plan of action has already been drawn after a series of meetings with the village elders and leaders. A super body has been formed and its name is “Yamuna Mitra Panchayat.” It will oversee the cleaning up process of the river.
Other government agencies like Panchayat Department, irrigation, horticulture and fisheries are falling in line. Pandey’s magnetism has worked and he has succeeded in enlisting their co-operation. A three member committee in every village has been constituted.
The committee will ensure that animal carcasses are not disposed of by throwing them into the river. At present Yamuna looks like a big sewage canal and industrial affluent and city waste collected by the Mathura municipality are dumped into the river. The panchayat is going to ban polythene bags and offenders will be punished.