'Taj in danger from dry Yamuna'
Agra: The Taj Mahal was in grave danger from the dry Yamuna, Lok Sabha MP from Agra Ram Shankar Katheria has told President Pratibha Patil.
"The Taj's foundation needs moisture, but there's no water," Katheria explained to the president at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Katheria, who led a delegation of Agra Vikas Sangh, invited the president to visit Agra.
He told a news agency that Patil expressed her concern over the matter.
In the memorandum presented to her, the delegation also made a demand for a barrage on the Yamuna.
Meanwhile, the movement for the restoration of the Yamuna river has picked up steam as the marching ascetics and activists campaigning for it have reached the Taj city on way to Delhi.
The Braj Mandal sants and ascetics, who began the yatra from the Sangam in Allahabad March 2, have been mobilising support in the smaller towns and villages on the way. The marchers reached here Wednesday night and will reach Delhi April 15.
Bhanu Pratap Singh, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said all sections of society are supporting the campaign inspired by Ramesh Baba of Barsana. Many NGOs and citizens groups have also extended their support.
The activists have threatened to open all the gates of the Okhla, Wazirabad and other barrages. "Water should be allowed to flow uninterrupted and should not be held up anywhere, only the overflow or surplus water can be stored," said Singh.
The marchers cover around 25 km daily and stop at some village for the night. A large number of women too have joined the march.
"People in Agra will give a fitting response and support the cause that has always been dear to them. Not only for the health of the humans but for conservation of monuments that fetch millions of dollars annually, the river needs to be saved," Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society president Surendra Sharma said.
DK Joshi, a member of the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, said: "For too long the government agencies and corrupt officials have played with our natural assets, the streams and the water bodies. Time has come for the people to wake up before it is too late."
"In the past three decades, close to Rs.5, 000 crore have been spent in the Taj Trapezium Zone and the results are there for everyone to see," he said.