After Ganga crusader GD Agarwal’s death, protégé states activist’s discontent with Modi govt

New Delhi: IIT-professor- turned seer GD Agarwal, who devoted his life to the cause of saving river Ganga, breathed his last on Thursday after a 111-day hunger strike demanding the government to scrap hydel projects along the river.

Agarwal sat on his fast on June 22 to protest against the government’s alleged inaction in taking measures to make the Ganga free of pollution and free-flowing.

He died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh where he was admitted by the state police last night. As per reports, Agarwal died due to a heart attack.

Dissatisfaction over Centre’s note

  • A day before Ganga activist Prof GD Agarwal passed away, the Centre on Wednesday had notified the minimum environmental flow for Ganga. Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the notification was keeping with the government’s commitment towards an ‘aviral’ and ‘nirmal’ Ganga.
  • While responding to a question, the minister specifically referred to Agarwal, saying he should give up his fast as some of his demands had been met.
  • Agarwal, however, was “very unhappy” and “dissatisfied” with the notification, Ravi Chopra, who Agarwal had mentored, was quoted as saying in media reports. As per Chopra, he met Agarwal in the early-80s and the two worked closely when the activist began his campaign for Ganga protection in 2008.
  • Agarwal, he said, was upset on two counts — the notification put down e-flow rates which were not based on any scientific study, and it only extended up to Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

Agarwal’s encounter with UPA Government

  • Agarwal, who took on the name Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand in his later life, sat on a similar fast in 2012.
  • Then, his fast lasted nearly two-and-a-half months at the end of which the then Manmohan Singh-led government at the Centre was forced to give in to Agarwal’s demand that a meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) be held.
  • Agarwal, born in 1932 in Shanli, retired as a professor of environmental engineering from IIT Kanpur. He served as a member-secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • In 2012, he formally renounced the world and adopted the name Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand.

This was Agarwal’s sixth fast for the cause of the river. In 2009, work on Loharing Pala Hydropower Project had stopped as the condition of Agarwal, then on the 38th day of fast, deteriorated.