Agra / Vrindavan: The dry Yamuna river bed and sizzling dust-laden winds from Rajasthan have raised air pollution in the Taj city to an alarming level, triggering concern over the safety of the white marble 17th century monument of love, the Taj Mahal.
Since the quantity of dust particles classified as SPM and RSPM generally shoots up in summer months, the white surface of the Taj Mahal is sand blasted leaving behind pock marks, according to environmentalist Shravan Kumar Singh.
What is flowing down in the river right now is not water. "This black liquid is highly toxic and polluted leaving a stink all around. Even bacterias are not able to survive in the river. All aqua-life is finished and periodically you keep hearing of fish deaths due to lack of Oxygen in the river water," says Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society. "The tourists who come to visit the Taj Mahal feel disgusted and express concern over the state of the river which is integral to the architectural design of the Taj Mahal complex," add tourist guide Ved Gautam.
River activists have been demanding uninterrupted minimal flow in Yamuna to keep it alive and nurture not only aquatic life but also secure historical monuments along its banks including the Taj Mahal.
In Vrindavan, a Yamuna conference of activists and saints of Braj mandal demanded restoration of ancient ghats as heritage, dredging of the river bed, and release of water from Hathini Kund. Acharya Srivatsa said "ignorance, apathy and hypocrisy were killing a living goddess Yamuna. Mathura-Vrindavan attract more visitors than Agra and most pilgrims who come are pained to see the pathetic state of river Yamuna."
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the conference demanded release of ten cumecs water by the Haryana government as directed by the National Green Tribunal. Also the central government should recognise Yamuna as a heritage entity. Friends of Vrindavan Convener Jagan Nath Poddar said "time had come for collective action for a comprehensive assault on polluters of Yamuna and compel the new rulers in Lucknow to bring water to Yamuna."
River activists Monday asked newly elected legislators of Agra to press for sharing of water by downstream cities.Â "if there is no water in Yamuna, there is a serious threat to the safety of Taj Mahal, Etmauddaula and Ram bagh. The moats of Agra Fort are dry. The Mughal heritage of the city is under threat from air and water pollution. The flood-plains of the river have been shamelessly usurped by realtors," they said.