Ganga Activist GD Agarwal, who was on an indefinite fast since June 22 to urge the government to clean river Ganga, has died at the AIIMS hospital in Rishikesh. He was 87.
Congress on Thursday attacked the Modi government and said, “Is Namami Gange also a ‘jumla’ (rhetoric)?” Calling the Centre blind, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Agarwal’s sacrifice might provide vision to the government.
“Modi ji said river Ganga is calling him but it is even more polluted than it was in 2014. Rs 22000 crore was allotted for cleaning it, not even 1/4th of it has been used,” he told news agency ANI.
The environmentalist, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, fasted for 109 days to save the Ganga. He was forcibly picked up by the Uttarakhand police and hospitalised on Wednesday.
According to AIIMS Rishikesh, the activist suffered a cardiac arrest. He was administered a potassium and heart-related medicine intravenously when he was brought at the hospital.
Agarwal had served as a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. He had also worked as a Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
He was protesting against hydroelectric projects on the Ganga’s tributaries and had demanded a law to protect the river.
Earlier, he had rejected a plea from Haridwar MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to end the fast, following assurances on his demands from the Centre.
Agarwal had been campaigning for the Ganga for several years and undertook a similar fast earlier as well.
A few years ago, he adopted Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand as his name.
As his fast continued, on September 9 Agarwal announced he will give up water in October.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga officials then talked with him and Congress president Rahul Gandhi expressed support.
The Ganga activist had donated his organs for medical research at the Rishikesh AIIMS, its director said.
Opposition Lashes out at Govt; Gadkari Claims Most of His Demands Were Met
Most of the demands put forward by environmental activist GD Agarwal, who passed away at AIIMS Rishikesh following an indefinite fast demanding conservation of River Ganga, had been accepted by the government and an e-flow gazette notification was issued on Tuesday, 9 October, to this effect. On Wednesday, 10 October, Water Resources and Ganga River Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari said two of Agarwal’s demands were accepted.
“We have accepted almost all his demands (on cleaning of the Ganga). One demand was to ensure minimum environmental flow for Ganga river at various locations and we have come out with a notification,” PTI quoted Gadkari as saying. The second demand, Gadkari said, was to bring a legislation to protect the Ganga. The legislation has been sent to Cabinet for approval.
(Source: The Indian Express)
PM Modi offered his condolences on Twitter
“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,” the prime minister tweeted.
The activist had previously too held fasts for the protection of rivers. His fast in 2009 had led to the construction of a dam on river Bhagirathi being stopped.
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