Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's son Tej Pratap Yadav has threatened to launch a protest if the government fails to clean the Yamuna river in Uttar Pradesh's Braj region.
Mr Yadav, who was in Mathura to celebrate Diwali and 'Govardhan Puja', on Tuesday said: "The Modi government's ambitious 'Namami Gange' project had failed, which is evident from the present condition of the Yamuna in Mathura despite crores having been spent on the project."
He said, "Several people who took the holy dip in the river recently during the Radha Rani Braj yatra, a popular local pilgrimage, fell ill and were admitted to hospitals. People across the world visit the Braj region, but the government does not seem to be bothered about them."
Mr Yadav said that he loves the region and has been visiting the place for the past 20 years, and the condition of Yamuna, which is the lifeline for millions in north India, has worsened in the last two decades.
"I want to tell the government that they should clean up the river which is not only the lifeline for millions of people but is also considered as the centre of faith," he added.
Meanwhile, Radha Kant Shastri, vice-president of Maan Mandir Seva Sansthan, an NGO that takes care of the 40-day-long Radha Rani Braj yatra, said around 70 pilgrims had gulped down the toxic water of Yamuna while they were trying to keep themselves afloat near Mahauli village in Haryana following a virtual stampede.
"The Haryana government did not repair the pontoon bridge in time for the pilgrimage and people had to cross the river with the support of a plastic rope, which was tied to tractors on both sides of the river. The pilgrims fell ill after gulping down the toxic river water that entered their mouths while crossing the river and had to be hospitalised," Mr Yadav said.