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Green activists launch campaign to rejuvenate dead Yamuna tributaries

Agra: Green activists in Agra have launched a campaign to rejuvenate several rain-fed tributaries of the Yamuna basin that have dried up, turning the vast rural hinterland of the district into a wasteland. These dried-up streams, originating from the hills of Rajasthan, have severely impacted crops and caused an acute shortage of water supply.

The historic Fatehpur Sikri, once the capital of Mughal emperor Akbar, is now grappling with water scarcity, accelerating the process of desertification towards Agra. The Terah Mori dam near Fatehpur Sikri stands parched, devoid of water. Other streams like Parvati, Utangan, Kivad, and Vaan Ganga, which enter Agra district from Rajasthan, have also dried up, adversely affecting agricultural operations. These streams originate in the Karauli and Sawai Madhopur districts of Rajasthan and flow through the Bharatpur and Dholpur districts before reaching Agra.

Green activists Anil Sharma, Rajiv Saxena, Aslam Salim, and Shiromani Singh, representing Agra's civil society, have called for urgent discussions between irrigation department officials from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. They aim to establish a time-bound framework for water-sharing mechanisms. Anil Sharma accused the Rajasthan government of blocking all water flow by constructing barrages and bunds on these rivers. "Not a drop is being discharged into these rivers for villages in Agra district. This is clearly against the spirit of federalism. The water table in the whole region has dropped perilously low, impacting conventional crops severely," Sharma stated.

Agra Civil Society members have engaged with Manju Bhadauria, chairperson of the Agra District Board, who has promised to address the issue at the highest level. The activists have demanded a water-sharing agreement between the two neighbouring states.

The members emphasized the need to restore the rainwater that accumulates in the "bandnis" by building a dam on the Utangan River. They noted that the Rajasthan government has constructed Chiksana, Vakola, and Khatua dams. Reviving the river system could ensure sufficient water for the Fatehabad, Kheragarh, and Shamshabad blocks of Agra, and potentially bring water to the Taj Ganj area in Agra city.

Experts suggest revisiting interstate river water agreements to ensure equitable and reliable water distribution to downstream cities. Such agreements can prevent conflicts over water and ensure sustainable use while aligning developmental activities with the needs of other states. Anil Sharma added, "This agreement can also protect local ecosystems, improve water quality, and ensure that the precious resource of water is available for future generations."

The Civil Society Agra is planning to hold a Jal Panchayat next month. They have invited Jal Purush Rajendra Singh.