MATHURA: Conservation efforts in this Hindu holy town - said to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna - have received a big boost, with a court banning mining operations in the area.
When pilgrims visit some of the shrines associated with Krishna-Radha lore, they will not fail to notice structural changes to restore, rejuvenate and conserve the ecology of the area.
The arrival of devotees is expected to go up before Janmashtami, the birthday of Krishna, considered Hinduism's popular divine, August 24.
A directive of the Rajasthan High Court bench July 7 stayed mining operations in hundreds of stone quarries in the area.
For years, the sub-districts of Deeg and Kamvan and villages of Nandgaon and Barsana associated with Lord Krishna were victims of indiscriminate mining and deforestation.
But now a petition before the high court has come to the rescue of the threatened Braj area - comprising the districts of Bharatpur, Mathura and Agra - considered an ecologically sensitive zone.
Krishna devotees are relieved that the court has ordered immediate suspension of mining activity in the area and all along the parikrama route in Braj.
The Rajasthan High Court bench headed by Justice Dilip Singh has ordered immediate halt to mining in the 100-odd areas associated with Krishna. The worst affected areas are in Kamvan, Deeg, Nand Gaon, Barsana, Goverdhan.
Vineet Narain, CEO of the Braj Foundation, said: "The order will help us carry on with our activities of restoration. The whole area has to be covered with greenery. (Work on) the dilapidated structures, the land already encroached upon, and so many smaller projects have to be executed."
"Each year the Braj area attracts millions of the devout from all parts of the world. But we were gradually helplessly watching the destruction of the cultural and historical relics of the Sri Krishna area," he said.
For the past two years, volunteers of the Braj Rakshak Dal and various religious organisations have been working to restore original the glory of many structures and holy ponds.
Deepankar Saha, an official of the Central Pollution Control Board in Agra, said a report was prepared on the extent of damage caused to the ecology of the Braj area and submitted to the court with recommendations.
"As the catchment area of river Yamuna, the crucial importance of the 12 vans (forests) and 24 upvans (gardens), scores of community ponds in the eco sensitive zone should be meticulously preserved," Saha said.
The Braj area has over 800 kunds (ponds), which need to be desilted.
"The Braj area falls in three states: Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. Therefore a coordinating authority of the three governments should be formed to speed up various projects before the festival season next month," said Raghav Mittal, project coordinator.
"The foundation has taken up several projects to bring back the lost glory of Braj. It is a pity that millions are poured into Braj in the name of ‘dham sewa’ (religious purposes) but practically nothing is done to protect, restore and decorate the real leela sthalis of the divine couple."
The restoration work on the historic Brahmo Kund in Vrindavan is going on in full swing. The octagonal ghats have been reconstructed. Life-sized statues of Chaitanya, Meera and others will be installed around the water body.
As a result of restoration and desilting work done last year, the Anjani Kund in Hodal and the Garud Govind Kund in Chatikara are overflowing with water.