<br>The locals curse and lambast elected representatives for the failure to address water scarcity, making heat unbearable in scorching lockdown conditions. The maximum temperature has crossed 46 degree Celsius in Agra.
Despite the Rs 3000 crore Ganga Jal pipeline project, many areas in the city continue to struggle with the water supply, particularly in colonies in the Trans Yamuna areas.
In the Chipi Tola area, the 32-inch pipeline leaked, affecting water supply in large parts of the city on Eid. The old Agra Water Works at Jeoni Mandi for some technical reasons is not able to run to its full capacity. While the demand has gone up, the supply remains erratic and inadequate.
Activists of the River Connect Campaign say, despite promises by everyone, the barrage on Yamuna, downstream of the Taj Mahal, remains a pipe dream. “They could have utilised the lockdown period to clean up the river, through dredging and desilting to increase the water holding capacity of Yamuna, during the monsoon months,” says Devashish Bhattacharya, a river activist.
The water quality and quantity improved till April end, but as temperature began rising from early May, the river is once again dry and polluted, adds Pandit Jugal Kishor of Sri Mathuradheesh temple on the river bank.
The upstream cities are drawing all the water leaving hardly anything for Agra. Even the minimum flow in the river has been affected, adds Shravan Kumar Singh of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society. Singh said his organisation had petitioned UP chief minister to use MANREGA resources, to clean up rivers and community ponds on a war footing.
Due to the lockdown, industrial effluents are in check, resulting in improved water quality in Yamuna. This has been a boon to the Taj Mahal, which after several years has not been hit by green bacteria that used to build colonies in the polluted river water, and carry deposits to deface the fragile marble surface of the Taj Mahal.