Life and times of a river and its people

Life and times of a river and its people

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Encounters with the Yamuna way of life

Imagine walking the same path on the Yamuna banks, where eons ago possibly Lord Krishna came to meet the Pandavas* at their Indraprastha city!

It may sound outlandish but for a perennial river Yamuna flowing since time immemorial, this is not much of a time gap: between Lord Krishna’s time and today. Perhaps a walk along the river bank in contemporary Delhi might reveal much more.

Then again, how about visiting an agriculture farm that has been irrigated with Yamuna waters ever since? How about a boat ride across the river which is believed to be not much deep yet unfathomable?

All this and much more is on cards during the Yamuna Katha project, an effort to understand the connection between the ancient river and the modern man. A group of Yamuna travelers will embark on the journey of discovery from the morning of October 12 for the Yamuna experience.

The ‘experience’ comprises variety ranging from a visit to water works unit of city’s water utility, interaction with a community which recently made Yamuna bank its home, discussion about the Delhi-Yamuna paradigm on its very bank at the Golden Jubilee Park (near Salimgarh fort) and watching the age old tradition of wrestling at one of the famous akharas (learning centres for wrestlers). (See itinerary).

With a diverse group, we hope to capture as-yet-undocumented exchange of views. For instance, while discussing the Yamuna riverfront development plan, the modern planner’s view envisaging all ‘poor’ things to vanish for providing entertainment to ‘rich’ may vary from a fisherman’s who can trace his ancestors living on the river bank for centuries together.

The use – rather the abuse – of Yamuna river, and the Yamuna banks too, would be the common thread throughout the foray. The haathi wala (elephant owner) camping his herd on the banks will tell upfront how the Indian government ambitious Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) has failed despite pumping crores of rupees. Aware that most interventions focus on the apathy of Yamuna, always on the receiving end of city’s careless denizens resulting in a drain-like status, the core group along with the passengers joining them daily will endeavor to understand Yamuna’s predicament vis-à-vis efforts by the NGOs, academicians, concerned individuals, activists and above all by those who live with the river.    

In short, the Yamuna Katha is a collective imagination of all Delhi wallas, obviously and not so obviously connected with the river.

(*Pandavas were five siblings, sons of King Pandu from the epic Mahabharata)

No comments:

Post a Comment