Yamuna As It Was & The World Culture Festival

18 April 2016 : Never before has ecology been under so much media-environmentalists glare as in the last two months. And for this we have to fully credit The Art of Living’s mega festival World Culture Festival.The ecology of Rivers, channels and the adjacent flood plains is of immense importance. I am particularly interested in the ecological impact that the WCF has had on the river Yamuna. As a biologist who has been watching rivers and wetlands for the last many years,  I shall like to put forward some observations before we make up our minds to give opinions. 

1. The question that needs to be asked is: With indiscriminate dumping of pollutants for last many decades, encroachments, agriculture practices with agrochemicals and lack of  responsible ownership by any one enforcement agency,  Is/was River Yamuna in Dehi a true depiction of a healthy river floodplain before WCF ? 

 2. If Yes, then we need to take the journey in one direction and if No then it is a completely different story. We all know the story of Yamuna in Delhi and one does not need to read research papers alone, to get convinced that the case is more of the latter than of the former kind.

 3. Yamuna in Delhi with its channelized flow that is regulated by barrages,  the bundhs on its sides; a sizable human population inhabiting, trampling & practicing agriculture along it’s course has moved far far away from the ideal picture of how a healthy river ecosystem in its true spirit should be. 

Since that is its case for the last many decades, a three day event with all its temporary nature, is a minuscule material activity ( though at spiritual and humane level it was the grandeur that is difficult to match) and cannot be held responsible for the damages that are assessed now.  

 4. The flatland that is agriculture land for decades, ecologically no trees in the river floodplain, birds that were migratory and are gone , and ever changing ecology of the river in different seasons of the year in a country where historical data is scanty, is not an ideal plot for understanding this ecological complexity and then attributing the case of damage to any one or the other activity. 

 5. Gratitude to the court of law that allowed the event to be held. And what a glorious event it was, not only did millions participated, they did it with full enthusiasm. Nature was at its worst and best, challenging and giving a proof of the Dharma; the Global leaders in one voice lauding  the works of Gurudev; Honorable Prime Minister  and the Delhi CM acknowledging the matchless contribution in the fields of human welfare through the volunteers of this organization. 

 6. As a citizen, who is driven by rationality and as one of many such millions, I wish that not only Yamuna but all our rivers be saved from the callousness, inaction and cynicism. Likes of Sri Sri and the Art of Living have only done a good, by mainstreaming the issues of ecological importance. And the great work that they have done in 3 states of the country to revive 16 river channels must be duly acknowledged.  

I can say with conviction that the Art of Living organization through its activity has brought the issue of conservation to the center-stage and the related processes shall act as a catalyst to expedite the processes for filling the big gaps in policy, management and its sustainability that is related to environmental issues. 

But let us not blame those who are virtuous. 

The writer is Prof Dr Anish Dua  Aquatic Biology Lab GND UNIVERSITY AMRITSAR

Courtesy: The News Daily