Monday, March 11, 2013

MPs want govt. to take steps to make Yamuna pollution-free

NEW DELHI, March 11, 2013 PTI

Expressing concern over the "sorry state" of river Yamuna, members in the Lok Sabha on Monday unanimously asked the government to save the "lifeline" of people from pollution.

As members from several parties said a large number of people were protesting on the issue, Speaker Meira Kumar said a strong message should go to the people that government would take all possible steps to make the river pollution-free.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj asked the government to take immediate and long-term measures as the life and livelihood of farmers and the people were being seriously affected.

Observing that thousands of farmers led by activists and religious leaders have reached Delhi seeking a clean Yamuna river, she said in spite of thousands of crores being spent on Yamuna Action Plan, there has been no improvement at all.

"The river remains thoroughly polluted and has dried up in Mathura and Vrindavan," she said.

Taking a dig at the government, Ms. Swaraj said, "If the river had passed through Rae Bareli, these problems would have been taken care of much earlier. Soniaji (UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi) is so powerful."

Ms. Gandhi, who represents Rae Bareli and was present in the House, was seen making some remarks but could not be heard in the din.

Members from various parties, including Congress, BJP, SP, BSP and RJD, wanted a discussion and time-bound concrete action by the government, with Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan assuring them that Government would take steps to protect the river.

The Speaker said, "We should send a message to agitating people that the House unanimously echoes their sentiments. All members have associated with it. This should echo outside this House too. There should be an impact. River Yamuna should be made free from pollution. This is our resolve."

"Many times this issue was raised in the House. Thousands of crores have been spent through Yamuna Action Plan to clean the river, but without any result. It is a question of our legacy. It is a symbol of our worship," Ms. Swaraj said.

Responding to Ms. Swaraj and other members, Ms. Natarajan said the Government was "extremely serious" on the issue. "The situation would have been much worse had the Government not acted effectively," she said.

Maintaining that free flow of water from upper riparian area was the only way to save the river, she said, "It is a very political issue involving different states through which the river is passing. 90 per cent of the water passing through the Hathnikund barrage is being used for farming."

Reacting to her statement, Ms. Swaraj and other members said Congress was in power at the Centre, in Delhi and in Haryana.

She said 22 drains were flowing into the river from Delhi and though there were several sewage treatment plants, many sewer lines in the city were "not connected to them."

The Minister said the government was aware of the problem and taking all steps to clean the river including bio-remediation. The Supreme Court was also being informed of these measures.

Referring to the Ganga, Ms. Natarajan said the government ensured clean water in the river during the recent Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, SP's Shailendra Kumar, Congress members Jagdambika Pal and Nirmal Khatri were among several members who raised the issue, with the Speaker favouring a detailed debate on it if they gave notice.
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