According to legend the river Yamuna became pavitra or pur and holy, when it rose to touch the feet of the infant Krishna, when he was being ferried across from Mathura to Gokul by his father Vasudev. Today, it remains pure only in name.
Before we get into the details of it's pollution aspect let us please you by informing that The Braj Foundation along with it's consrtium partner IL&FS has prepared a comprehensive development plan of Yamuna in Mathura. Some glimpses of the same ar as follows
Eighty miles upstream from Vrindavan is the National Capital Region of Delhi. Two-thirds of the city's water supply is taken from the Yamuna and practically all of its sewage and waste water finds its way back into the river, mostly untreated. To this is added the increasing volume of industrial effluent spewed out from the factories and power stations. So much untreated human and industrial filth is pumped into it here that by the time it leaves Delhi for brajbhoomi and beyond it is nothing but a gutter.
In the previous fiscal year, the Delhi Government spent 1400 crores on cleaning the Yamuna, but the still unchanged filthy state of the river made it accept defeat in a leading newspaper. Successive governments have pumped in crores of rupees in the name of cleaning the river but the money seems to have simply been flushed down with the water. The Delhi Jal Board admits that the city generates over 650 million gallons of sewage daily, of which only about 150 MGD are treated. Various efforts by NGOs and civil society have also been effective but only in limited measures.
The Delhi stretch is barely 22 kms of its entire 1,370 km long journey from Yamunotri (its birthplace) to the ocean. But for Yamuna, the sister of Yama, God of Death, these 22 kms truly bring its death. The whole stretch of the Yamuna from Delhi to Agra, which includes Vrindavan, is now declared unfit for drinking and bathing. This strikes at the heart of Vrindavan's culture.
Krishna’s association with the river began right from his birth, when he let the surging river touch his feet. His childhood and youth stories and folklore are told and retold today with a beautiful and pure Yamuna as the backdrop as evidenced in most of our traditional and folk poetry and dance forms. Krishna himself did not take kindly to polluters. According to legend he jumped into the river to tame the poisonous Kaliya snake who was dirtying the river with his obnoxious fumes. Mythology is a complex science. Century old tales and stories can be interpreted by generations after generations with their ever complicated contexts and changing ethos. Kaliya’s modern day equivalent are the industrial units that release effluents into the river.
Deforestation in the Himalayas has taken its toll on the flow of the Yamuna's water. The normal flow of the river has been reduced to a fraction of what it was, thus lowering the water table and drying out wells and water tanks throughout the area. Another effect has been the catastrophic silt-laden floods during the rainy season, resulting in the drastic change in course of the Yamuna at Vrindavan. She used to flow round the town on three sides, holding the sacred groves and temples in a loving embrace. Now she is a mile away from her old bed, and only touches the town for a few hundred yards at Keshi Ghat. Either side of the river is a widening flood plain of sandy, treeless desert.
Vrindavan's original riverside is filled with ornate bathing ghats, terraces and steps with ornamental shelters and palaces where pilgrims used to bathe. They are now marooned, crumbling and neglected, amidst the dry sand and debris left behind by the retreating river.
Along with the Kunds, groves, and hills, Yamuna is the fourth important element of the Braj quadrangle. It has always been and will always remain a major point of reference in the Braj landscape. The Braj Foundation intends to venture into this fourth angle of restoration and revival in the near future. Without this any attempts to revive the disappearing environment and the sacred landscape of Braj will remain incomplete. We are making extensive efforts to sensitize government and civil society to take action in this field. Our concentration now is to dredge the river in the entire Braj region to restore its water holding capacity.
We invite experts and experienced individuals, groups and politicians to guide us to take this forward.