Saving Yamuna: an Update
Posted January 25, 2010
This news that a temporary injunction against the construction of the bridge over the Yamuna is most welcome (see judgment at the Allahabad High Court below).
We can rejoice and thank the devotees from around the world. Their massive sigh of despair has no doubt influenced the way that the karmic wheel is turning.
More and more people have become conscious of the issue and have been deeply affected emotionally at the thought of the wanton desecration and destruction of our beloved Vrindavan Dham.
But we are far from winning this war. It is only lull, a break, a little bit of time to mobilize our forces for the even greater obstacles that need to be overcome.
This war will not be won by mind vibrations only, nor even by Harinam alone. It will require convincing people on a massive scale in India and around the world.
When we started in Krishna consciousness so many years ago, we thought that the whole world would turn to Krishna in a very short time. We were so enthusiastic and convinced. And yet, it did not take very long for us to see how strong Maya is and how she can undermine our efforts in so many ways.
The biggest weapon Maya has is to weaken our faith and make us passive. Maya will say, "God is in control. He has no need of your seva. He has already determined the results. You only need to be a detached and passive observer."
I say that this is Mayavada philosophy. Devotees take pleasure in serving and enjoy the apparent challenge that comes when they have to dig deeper into themselves and their practice to find the strength and intelligence to serve in the ways that Krishna asks them to serve.
Now this is really a very amazing moment in the history of the Krishna Consciousness Movement.
This issue cuts across _all_ sampradayika lines. Whether you belong to Iskcon, the Gaudiya Math, another Vaishnava parampara, or even to any Hindu sampradaya... it goes beyond even those who have purely religious interests and extends to all who are into the protection of the environment and that of human cultural and historical heritage.
As such, it can and should take us out of our tiny parochial universes and make us see how we share common values with so many others.
It can and should remind us that we need to put aside our petty egoisms about being the best or purest or most representative of Krishna or Mahaprabhu, or God Himself, and work together to achieve a goal that is both concrete and realizable.
I will say that again: This is a goal that is concrete and realizable.
Making everyone into Mahaprabhu's bhakta may or may not be. Making everyone recognize Srila Prabhupada as the Yuga Acharya may or may not be. All of our biggest goals have a potential date of realization so far in the future that they are, in a sense, neither concrete nor realizable.
But this is a goal that is both concrete and realizable.
Not only that, but it can be seen as a stepping stone to our higher and more longterm goals, for _all_ of us.
If Vrindavan is preserved as a sacred place, will that not inspire people from India and around the world to see it a source of inspiration, and to chant the Holy Names and recognize the saints who lived and worshiped here as preceptors of a truly beautiful and valuable mode of religious thought and practice?
And if the Yamuna is preserved as a sacred river, will that not function as an important stepping stone to a return to the consciousness of the sacred nature of the world as the manifestation of God's energies? Is a pure and clean Yamuna that can be bathed not an essential brick in the reconstruction of the Dham as a sacred land?
And if we accomplish these things, will not Iskcon, the Gaudiya Math, all the Gaudiya vamshas and parivars, all the Vaishnava sampradayas, all Hindu sampradayas, all religions and environmental groups, indeed all human beings, not benefit from the achievement?
John Donne said that no man is an island. Neither is any sampradaya. This is a worthy goal for all of us and we must work together to do whatever is necessary to achieve it.
This is a goal for which the tools that we have already become trained are so eminently useful, whether it is writing, speaking, convincing the public, doing the footwork, going from door to door, creating enthusiasm, etc.
So please, keep on using the tools at your disposition to network, to publicize the issue, to push forward the letter writing and petition work.
We will win this war only on the field of public opinion and that is where we must descend and do battle. We must inundate all the offices of responsible parties, of influential people, with letters that let them know the way we feel. Give concrete ideas and proposals, but never forget the essential:
Vrindavan is OUR sacred place and we will not allow shortsighted business or commercial interests destroy it. Please visit Click Here to become involved.
Jai Radhe, Jai Radhe!!
Court No. - 9
Case :- PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. - 2593 of 2010
Petitioner :- Madhu Mangal Shukla
Respondent :- Union Of India Thru. Secr. Ministry Of Environment & Others
Petitioner Counsel :- A. Chaturvedi,Amit Verma,G.N. Verma
Respondent Counsel :- A.S.G.I.,C.S.C. (2010/2052),D.S. Chauhan
Hon'ble Vijay Manohar Sahai,J.
Hon'ble Virendra Kumar Dixit,J.
Statement has been made by Sri A. Chaturvedi learned counsel for the petitioner that Shri G.N. Verma Senior Counsel has withdrawn from this case and he will not appear as Counsel in this writ petition. Sri A. Chaturvedi with Sri Amit Verma will only appear as Counsel for the petitioner in view of the statement made by him.
We have heard learned counsel for the petitioner, Dr. A.K. Nigam, Additional Solicitor General of India assisted by Mr. Irfan Ali for respondent no. 1, 2, 3 and 10, Standing Counsel appearing for respondents no. 4, 5 and 6, Sri Rajesh Mishra appearing for respondent no. 7 and Sri D.S. Chauhan for respondent no. 8.
Counter affidavit may be filed within three weeks thereafter rejoinder affidavit may be filed within one week. The petitioner shall take steps to serve notice by Registered Post as well as Dasti notice within a week. It has been argued by learned counsel for the petitioner that Vrindavan has its religious importance and along the river Yamuna there is Panchkosi Parikrama Marg which passes through the Ghats situated on the banks of river Yamuna. The pilgrims do parikrama on their feet as well as by crawling on the Parikrama Marg to worship Lord Krishna. That some persons in collusion with the authorities had encroached the bank of river Yamuna by raising construction and making their houses, ashrams, hotels etc. between the Ghat and river Yamuna along the Parikrama Marg in the flood plain area. That the land over which these illegal constructions have been raised, in fact is a nazul land. That the drains and sewerage of the aforesaid area falls in river Yamuna making the river unfit for drinking, washing and bathing purposes. It is further submitted that the garbage of the city also being dumped in the aforesaid ghats. That allowing the constructions which is being raised on the ground that the same is in the interest of public, question still remains whether interest of ecology and environment and right to the citizens guaranteed under article 21 of Constitution of India would have priority over the interest of public. It is also submitted that the respondents had started construction of bridge along the river Yamuna which starts from Shringarvat and ends in Badikunj (Keshi Ghat). The aforesaid constructions have been started without obtaining No Objection Certificate from the Ministry of Environment for the construction of bridge over river Yamuna that too not across the river but along the river bank. That Vrindavan comes under the Taj Trapezium Zone and the authorities had also not obtained No Objection Certificate from the Hon'ble Apex Court before starting construction. That due to construction of aforesaid bridge not only Gahats will perish but the flow of the river which has been diverted from construction of bridge will also leave only ghats from where at present river flows.
Learned counsel for the petitioner further submitted that the office of the respondent no. 8 had admitted that Vrindavan Samagra Vikas Pariyojana, Tourism Master Plan of Vraj Region is yet not sanctioned and the fund for the aforesaid construction has been sanctioned by Tourism Department. That the construction work of the bridge is against the rules of the the Indian Archaeological Act and the same was stopped by District Magistrate, Mathura but the same has again started and work on the bridge is being carried out without obtaining the necessary permission from the concerned departments. It is also submitted that to permit constructions along with river amounts to breach of the statutory provision of the Environment (Protection) Act, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. Learned counsel for the Mahtura Vrindavan Development Authority urged that the authorities have given notice to the persons who are raising illegal constructions. Prima facie, it appears that no firm action has been taken by the concerned authorities to stop the illegal constructions raised between the ghats and river by local citizens. Dumping of garbage in the ghats of river Yamuna, illegal encroachments constructions on the side of bank of river, permitting raising construction of bridge along river Yamuna without being any permission from the Hon'ble the Apex Court which comes under the Taj Trapezium Zone is a serious matter. On all these aspects of the matter, a detailed counter affidavit shall be filed by the respondents.
List for further hearing on 23.2.2010.
Until further order of the Court, the respondents are directed to stop further constructions over the bridge which is being constructed along side river Yamuna and other illegal constructions on the land which falls between the ghats and river Yamuna on both the sides and to stop dumping of garbage in river Yamuna or its bank. Respondents are further directed to ensure that no constructions are raised in the aforesaid area by any person.
Order Date :- 21.1.2010