Sunday, November 16, 2014

Plea For Vrndavana's Help

NGO's write to remind India's president that Vrndavana has been neglected for many years ...

Vrindavan, 2014.11.15 (Brij Khandelwal): When President Pranab Mukherjee visits the town on Sunday to lay the foundation stone of ISKCON’s temple project, the ugly scars of the neglected holy town and years of administrative mismanagement will remain obscured from his view by the glittering facade created by development agencies’ fortnight worth of toil. Something that has irked social activists in the city.

However, a number of activists belonging to various local NGOs have taken up the cudgels against the issue by writing a letter to the President apprising him of the ground realities, with a hope that his visit would help change the profile of this reeling town that draws millions of pilgrims from across the world.

Their letter has underscored how several development works have stunted recently after the state government decided two months back to amalgam Vrindavan’s local body with Mathura’s to form a unified municipal corporation. A string of protests backed by activists and godmen against the government’s decision has resulted in a stagnation of these projects.

Madhumangal Shukla, an RTI activist fighting for the cleanliness of river Yamuna, underlined the botched waste disposal system in the town. “Garbage and waste disposal is one of the chief problems suffered by this town as there is no landfill site available. Besides, the town lacks resources to sustain the cleanliness drive launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.

The city does not have a sewer system either. “Most homes either have the old system of latrines or depend on septic tanks. In the morning, you can see drains overflowing with human excreta. Even more alarming is the fact that some multi-storeyed complexes discharge toilet waste directly into the earth through borings. The fear is that the underground reserves could be poisoned with toxic substances if this practice is not stopped,” Goswami said.

Despite repeated demands, Vrindavan does not have a proper cremation ground along the river bank. The main congregation ground, which was reserved for the Kumbh Mela every 12 years, is gradually getting concretized. The receding of the site has got the religious community in the town worried about Mela’s future. “No-one knows where the next Kumbh will be held. The traditional site is already getting consumed by modern buildings,” said a perturbed sadhu Charan Das.

Vrindavan’s demand for a peacock sanctuary has not received the attention it deserves, locals lament. The peacocks are dying for want of care. “Everyone knows Sri Krishna loved peacocks and he used their feathers in his head gear. But the monkeys are murdering them. Their natural habitat has disappeared,” complained Kunj Bihari Sharma.

Residents also complained about the lack of a well-formulated ‘cow economics’ in the city, and the disappearances of scared groves in the city.

Sitar maestro Trigunateet Jaimini felt that the “time had come” for Doordarshan to start a Braj Bhasha channel to promote the local culture of the region. “We have to protect Haveli Sangeet, Samaj gyan parampara, the Pakhawaj and folk arts like Sanjhi and Tesu,” he said.

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