Mathura: It's yet another bid to draw attention to a dying and polluted river that not just sustains life in the Braj region but is also a heritage treasure and a religious symbol for millions of Indians.

At least "100,000 bhakts (religious devotees)" will turn out for a 10-day march to Delhi that begins from here on Friday to demand that the river Yamuna be cleaned up.

While the Mathura district authorities have drawn up elaborate plans to manage the traffic and the influx of activists from all parts of India, the organisers say traffic would be confined to one carriageway of the extremely busy National Highway-1 that links this city to the national capital.

At the Chatikara starting point, a tented township has come up to lodge tens of thousands of activists. Mathura's Jai Gurudev ashram has also joined the movement and taken the responsibility of feeding the activists. A huge dais has been readied at Chatikara site to hold a Yamuna conference before the march begins.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Bhanu group) has mobilised thousands of farmers to join the march. The demands include the release of a minimum quantity of water into the Yamuna round the year from the Hathini Kund barrage, some 100 km upstream of New Delhi, and effective checks on drains in the national capital that dump pollutants, effluents and sewer waste into the river - literally turning it into one huge drain.

Yamuna activists say millions of rupees have gone down the gutter in the two Yamuna Action Plans which have not made any discernible change to the river system that sustains life and agriculture affecting millions of people in the three states of Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

The Supreme Court has expressed its extreme displeasure that despite the creation of a Yamuna Development Authority and Rs.12,000 crore (over $2 billion) having been spent, the river has been reduced to a drain and its waters are unfit for drinking or even bathing.


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