On June 22, environmentalist Prof GD Agarwal went fasting to save the Ganga. After writing numerous letters to the government and receiving nothing in reply, he gave up drinking even water on October 9 to put pressure on the government.
But the spirits and dedication of this 87-year-old green warrior were crushed when the government turned a blind eye towards him. Finally, on Thursday, after fasting for over a hundred days, Agarwal succumbed to a heart attack.
GD Agarwal, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, was a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. He sat on a fast demanding steps that would protect the Ganga river and maintaining its uninterrupted flow between Gangotri and Uttarakshi in Uttarakhand. He wanted the Ganga aviral (free flowing) and demanded to put a halt onto all hydroelectric projects around the tributaries and also to enact the Ganga Protection Management Act.
Agarwal was the first member-secretary of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). He had sat on numerous protests during his lifetime and campaigned against the construction of projects along River Ganga.
In 2010, he fasted for 38 days to scrap the 600 MW Lohari Nagpala project on Bhagirathi River that hampered the free flow of water. Due to his persistence and dedication, the project was finally put off by a minister’s panel.
On October 10, the Uttarakhand government had forcibly moved him to AIIMS, Rishikesh. The tests revealed the shortage of potassium and increased levels of dehydration he was informed yesterday that he will be moved to AIIMS, Delhi. But Agarwal did not want to move from the place where was fasting.
“He did not want to go. He told them that he doesn’t want to go. His condition suddenly deteriorated after he heard that he will forcibly move him to Delhi,” his caretaker Prem told The Wire.
Agarwal wrote numerous letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also to ministers who were given the responsibility to rejuvenate the Ganga. But all his letters wet unread and he did not receive any response from the concerned authorities. He wrote his third and final letter to PM Modi on August 5.
“It was my expectation that you would go two steps forward and make special efforts for the sake of Gangaji because you went ahead and created a separate Ministry for all works relating to Gangaji, but in the past four years all actions undertaken by your Government have not at all been gainful to Gangaji and in her place gains are to be seen only for the Corporate Sector and several business houses,” he wrote.
But everything went in vain. He was forcibly moved from his place of fasting and the government paid no heed to his demands. Yesterday, after suffering a heart attack, India lost its green warrior at around 1.30 pm and another voice was silenced. The hopes of numerous people trying to save the environment were crushed and once again, the government won and river Ganga lost her son.
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