“Govt. non-committal on water release from Hathini Kund barrage”

Even as thousands of “Yamuna Muktikaran Padyatra” activists, including women and children, crossed over into Delhi on Monday after a prolonged stay in neighbouring Faridabad over the weekend, they put the proposed demonstration at Jantar Mantar on hold in view of negotiations with the Central Government through the day to find a mutually-agreed solution to the problem of growing pollution in the river. Another round of meeting between Union Minister of Water Resources Harish Rawat and a delegation of the “Yamuna Muktikaran Yatra” was underway till late in the evening.

Among other things, the protestors, who have reached Delhi after a 10-day foot march from Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, are demanding cleaning of a 22-km stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi between Wazirabad Barrage and Okhla Barrage and release of at least 50 per cent of water from Hathini Kund barrage into the Yamuna.

Yamuna Rakshak Dal executive president Sunil Kumar, who is also in-charge of the padyatra said: “The government approached us through Mathura MLA Pradeep Mathur for negotiations. Our five-member delegation had a meeting with Mr. Rawat (Union Minister of Water Resources) around noon but it ended without an agreement as the government was noncommittal on our demand of releasing water from Hathini Kund barrage.”

“The Minister,” he said, “was however ready to give a written assurance on cleaning of the Yamuna in Delhi. The proposed demonstration has been postponed in view of the ongoing meetings. If a decision is not reached today, we will come out in full force at Jantar Mantar tomorrow to stage a protest.”

Radhapriya, a delegation member, said: “Mr. Rawat has called a meeting of Irrigation Ministers of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in the evening. He will then meet us, after which a final decision on the future course of action will be taken. A committee has also been constituted under the Prime Minister’s Office to find a solution to the issue.”

Earlier, Delhi BJP leaders, led by their president Vijay Goel, welcomed the activists at Badarpur on their entry into the Capital and reiterated their support to the cause. The movement of the activists caused traffic jams in Delhi and Faridabad in the morning and vehicles were diverted at several places.