Demands include cleaning of a 22-km stretch of the river

Several thousand people, including women and children, along with a convoy of large number of vehicles are slated to reach Delhi on Monday in the form of a march under the aegis of “Yamuna Muktikaran Padyatra”.

They are scheduled to stage a protest at Jantar Mantar here, demanding cleaning of a 22-km stretch of the Yamuna river in Delhi – between Wazirabad Barrage and Okhla Barrage -- among other things.

The activists, mostly owing allegiance to the Bharatiya Kisan Union and the Yamuna Rakshak Dal, had started marching towards Delhi from Vrindavan on March 1 and are presently camping at Agarwal Dharamshala on Sher Shah Suri Marg in neighbouring Faridabad.

The protesters had reached Faridabad on Friday and were scheduled to reach Delhi on Sunday to stage protest at Jantar Mantar and gherao Parliament highlighting the plight of the Yamuna river and the Government’s failure to make it pollution-free, but their entry to the Capital was delayed on account of the reluctance of the administration to grant them permission for the protest.

After several rounds of negotiations between the representatives of the protesters and the administration, they have now been allowed to camp at Ali Gaon in Delhi and stage a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in a limited number. “We have more than 200 vehicles, including 40-odd tractors and 44 water tankers in the convoy. Due to this there was concern about traffic-related problems and so the administration was not keen on allowing us entry into Delhi. It was eventually agreed that while over a thousand people would stage a protest at Jantar Mantar on the issue, the rest of us would camp at Ali Gaon till our demands are met. We are yet to on decide on the ‘gherao’ of Parliament,” said Yamuna Rakshak Dal executive president Sunil Kumar, who is also in-charge of the ‘padyatra’ (foot march).

Claiming that the protesters were over 20,000 in number, Mr. Kumar said that the activists would set out for Ali Gaon around 10 a.m. and later over a thousand of them would reach Jantar Mantar at 3 p.m.

Though senior Delhi Police officers said the organisers of the padyatra had not sought permission for the protest, Mr. Kumar refuted the charges saying that they have been in touch with the administration since mid-February. “We had been seeking permission to camp at Ramlila Ground, but the Delhi Police denied it saying that the venue was not vacant. It was after we reached the doorstep of Delhi that the police allowed us to stay put at Ramlila Ground for two days, but we refused it on the grounds of time-limit. When the Government did not bother to take heed of our demands during the past 10 days, we cannot be expected to have a change of heart in just two days. So we decided to stay on indefinitely at Ali Gaon. We had staged a similar protest in 2011 as well, camping at Jantar Mantar for 17 days,” said Mr. Kumar.

The movement of the activists in the morning and the protest at Jantar Mantar could affect traffic in different parts of the Capital.