In an exclusive statement to Vrindavan Today, world renowned environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva said today here that “the people of Vrindavan should send a message to J.P. [Gaur of Jaypee Group] that the Yamuna and its ghats belong to the local people, not to him.”
In town this Sunday to give the keynote speech for the Save Ganga-Yamuna Workshop held at Ma Dham ashram, she said also that if the ghats along the Yamuna are not preserved for heritage purposes, the neglect will be “like a wall impeding the proper development of Vrindavan.”
She said, “The Yamuna here should be protected for its sacred character as it has been the tradition in the area for many centuries.” She also stated that the Yamuna Expressway project is against the interest of the people of the region.
When asked what would be her advice to those sections of the local population that think the expressway is good for the town, she stated that “in every situation such type of development brings nothing.”
She explained that the type of projects in progress presently in Vrindavan bring no real development but significant environmental problems instead, and consequently economic disruption and poverty in a continuous cycle.
Asked as to how local people can have their voice heard in favor of preservation of heritage and the sacred character of Vrindavan, she said that naturally Vrindavan is a place of festivities and celebrations, and so people should integrate their demands to authorities in their festivals and spiritual activities. “Speak through kirtan, through drama,” she said.
Ms. Rama Rauta of the Save the Ganga Movement opened the series of speeches presenting the argument that all the vast pollution of the Ganga today is a result of only 20% of certain flush systems released in the river. “What if the remaining 80% is let in the waters?” she questioned.
She said that vast scientific studies and resulting proposals for cleaning the Ganga and Yamuna have long been established by the Indian scientific community and abroad, but neglect from the government does not allow for any such projects to produce results. She said that if scientists had access to the simple resources required for their work, the two rivers would be completely cleaned and restored in a period of only three years.
Representing Vrindavan, Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami of the Radha Raman temple, spoke strongly on how the current State administration has established policies that deliberately minimize the position of Vrindavan as the significant place of pilgrimage and world heritage that it is. He pointed for instance at how the recent floods in Vrindavan have left detritus and dirt on the banks of the sacred Yamuna, as well as along the many gaths, but officials purposely let these place remain unclean so pilgrims would gradually get discouraged to come and visit.
He added that this is part of a deliberate attempt at shifting the character of Vrindavan from spiritual to merely commercial and industrial. In conclusion he advised Vrindavan administrators not to lose perspective on the fact that “government is our servant and not the other way around.”
Jagannath Poddar of Friends of Vrindavan lamented the absence of more participants and stakeholders from Vrindavan. “No local was invited,” he said. “Big people attending a workshop doesn’t mean that something big will happen.”
The Save Ganga-Yamuna Workshop was facilitated by the Ma Dham Ashram located at Chattikara Road, in Vrindavan. Vrindavan widows’ rights advocate and spokesperson, and Ma Dham’s founder, Mohini Giri, presided over the event.
Afterwards, Dr. Shiva and her sister Dr. Mira Siva went to visit Vrinda Kunja. In talks with B.A. Paramadvaiti Maharaja, she confirmed a plan to open a seedbank of Navdanya in Vrindavan.
Paramadvaiti Maharaja said, “We first made this plan when I visited the Navdanya farm in Dehradun. So we hope that in a short time this project will manifest to foster organic farming in the holy Dham.”
Those interested in this project may contact Gandharvika at 9690274444.
Source: Vrindavan Today