At a time when the rivers are in spate, the residents of 25 villages in Bijnore district of Uttar Pradesh have started 'Jal Satyagrah' to demand a bridge and embankment along the Ganga in the district.
The villagers started their protest on Tuesday and are going to continue till their demands are met by the government.
Over 100 villagers are taking turns, on daily basis, to stand in knee-deep water of the river as part of the protest in the Daibalgarh village of Bijnor. The agitation has also given hope to women, who are forced to cross the river during their search for fodder.
The decision to hold the protest was taken at a 'mahapanchayat' on Monday. The protestors said that the agitation was indefinite. A heavy police force has been deployed on the banks of the river.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has also extended its support to the stir. Several BKU leaders, including state General Secretary Ram Avtar Singh and the district President Digambar also took part in the protest. Some leaders from Uttarakhand were also present.
Addressing the gathering, BKU leader Rajendra Singh said, "Ganga has eroded thousands of bighas of agriculture land in the last some years. The people from seven villages have been displaced because of the erosion. The river is eroding the land continuously, but administration is apathetic towards the problems of the villagers."
The villagers want a temporary bridge on the river to reach their fields, which are located across the river. Besides this, they are also demanding a 10-kilometer long embankment, from Balawali to Ravali.
The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Bijnor, Brajesh Singh, met the agitators and assured them to raise their demands before the higher authorities. "We are discussing the issue with the PWD and irrigation departments. I hope we will be able to resolve the matter," he said.
The mighty Ganga changes its course every monsoon. With it, the fate of the thousands of farmers is also linked and they suffer as a result.
During the rainy season, the overflowing river swallows thousands of acres of farmland on the fertile northern plains, apart from submerging houses and claiming lives mostly of women and children.
Last year, a group of ten women, which was crossing the river on a rickety boat to fetch fodder for their cattle in Bijnore, was washed away as they did not know how to swim.