Veteran Environmentalist and Ganga activist Prof GD Agarwal breathed his last in Rishikesh after 111 days fast-unto-death. He protested the government’s inaction over pollution in river Ganga and demanded action against hydel projects and mining along the river.
The former IIT-Kanpur professor and the first member-secretary of Central Pollution Control Board began his fast on June 22 after receiving no response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to any of his letters. His recent letter seeked for enactment of the Ganga Protection Act which sought a total ban on quarrying and stone crushing on the Ganga river bed and scrapping of all hydel projects on the river and its tributaries in Uttarakhand.
He also cited the example of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to stop as well as cancel all activities in a major project like Lohari Nagpala which was already 90% complete by then.
Saddened by the demise of Shri GD Agarwal Ji. His passion towards learning, education, saving the environment, particularly Ganga cleaning will always be remembered. My condolences.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 11, 2018
This is not the first time that he took to fasting for the conservation of Ganga. In 2009, he went on a hunger strike for scrapping of two dams on the Bhagirathi river, a tributary of the Ganga. In 2016. His fast forced a crackdown on illegal mining in Haridwar.
The Centre issued a notification to maintain free flow of 20-30% of water in river Ganga in the next three years. But the notification failed to satisfy his demands.
Water Resources and Ganga River Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari, reacting to the activist’s demise, said, “We have accepted almost all his demands (on cleaning of the Ganga). One demand was to ensure environmental flow and we have come out with a notification.” A letter was also sent from Gadkari requesting Mr Agarwal to end his fast.
Rahul Gandhi described Agarwal as “the true son of mother Ganga”. He tweeted, “It is rivers like the Ganga that have made India. Saving the Ganga is like saving the country. We will never forget him and will take his fight forward.”
PM Modi also wrote, “Saddened by the demise of Shri GD Agarwal Ji. His passion towards learning, education, saving the environment, particularly Ganga cleaning, will always be remembered…”