By Brij Khandelwal
Agra, July 23 | People living along Yamuna river bank in Agra were shocked to see thousands of dead fish piled up along the ghats, early Friday.
The dead fish were first spotted Thursday evening near the Jawahar bridge, close to Balkeshwar Ghat, said Pandit Jugal Kishore of the River Connect Campaign.
Eminent environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya who visited the sites told IANS that the dead fish had been discharged from the Gokul barrage in Mathura. The river water stocked in the Gokul barrage has depleted Oxygen-levels and is highly toxic, as drains upstream continue to discharge toxic industrial effluents along with sewer. “The state government agencies have no plans to tackle this problem,” Bhattacharya added.
The Yamuna river is virtually dry after the Okhla barrage in Delhi. “What flows down in the name of water is sewage and industrial waste. The river is totally unfit to support any type of aqua life,” said Jagan Nath Poddar, convener of the Friends of Vrindavan Society.
State Pollution Control Board officials in Agra said the dead fish found in Agra, was an alarm. The water quality is extremely poor.
River activists in Agra are incensed by repeated attempts to fell trees along the Yamuna banks in Agra to lay a pipeline. Devashish Bhattacharya has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the district authorities for failing to check chopping of trees in the eco-sensitive zone close to the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort.
In Mathura and Vrindavan, activists are mobilising support to launch an agitation to free the Yamuna flood plains of encroachments.
Sunil Sharma, an activist said dozens of drains are opening into the river discharging untreated waste.
“All along the banks of the river several organisations have grabbed chunks of land and construction work continues unabated,” Sharma added. The river has been distanced away from the ancient ghats, as illegal mining of sand has been going on for a long time.
In Agra, the state pollution control board has listed 90 odd drains still discharging waste and sewer into the river. The municipal corporation claims it has already tapped 40 odd drains. “But the ground reality is quite different, as any survey of the sites will prove,” says green activist Ranjan Sharma.