"Public ponds have not been cleared of encroachment despite orders from the Allahabad High Court. Hundreds of ponds that have dried up have been encroached upon. We have submitted a list of the ponds and our report to the Allahabad High Court," D.K. Joshi, a member of the Supreme Court monitoring committee on sewage and drinking water in Agra, told IANS.
"Why is the state government not acting on the National Green Tribunal's May 20 directive to clear the Yamuna flood-plains of encroachment?" asked activist Akash Vashist, who had petitioned the high court, while speaking to IANS over the telephone from Ghaziabad.
"The order to clear the encroachments has to be passed by the divisional commissioner of Agra, who shows no urgency to comply with the court's order," Vashist added.
Shravan Kumar Singh, another activist, said: "During the monsoon, the Yamuna will be swollen with water and then will go dry after a couple of months. All the water will flow into the sea if it is not stored. Why can't government agencies dredge and desilt the river bed to open up the aquifers?"
In Vrindavan, the Yamuna river bank is yet to be cleared of garbage dumps. "They have constructed a bridge and a road on the river bank. Colonies have come up on the flood-plains," said Jagan Nath Poddar, convener of the Friends of Vrindavan, an NGO dedicated to sanitation, conservation of greenery and garbage removal.
"Green issues have always been ignored in Vrindavan and Mathura, with the result that we have lost 75 percent of the green cover to concrete structures," said Baba Madan Bihari Das of the Friends of Vrindavan.
"Since 2003, not a stone has been removed from the Taj Corridor project (between world heritage monuments Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort), which takes up 85 acres of the Yamuna river bed despite Supreme Court orders to clear the debris. The Archaeological Survey of India has now passed the buck to the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department," said environmentalist Rajan Kishore.