Dehradun, Environmentalist Prof G D Agrawal, on hunger strike since the past 111 days for urgent steps to save the holy Ganga in Kankhal-Haridwar, died on Thursday.
The IIT professor-turned-sanyaasi (known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand) was brought to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, by authorities yesterday from the venue of his fast at Kankhal following a decline in his condition.
Associates of Prof Agrawal present at the Rishikesh AIIMS said, the 87-year old Ganga warrior suffered cardiac arrest and breathed his last around 1300 hrs but the doctors declared him dead late this afternoon after suspense for more than three hours.
Earlier this morning, doctors administered him potassium and drip to give 500 ML IV fluid.Agrawal, an acclaimed river activist, had earlier headed the Civil Engineering department at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and also served as the first member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board.
In his will, Agrawal had bequeathed his body to AIIMS Rishikesh.Just yesterday, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari was asked about his demands by UNI at a news conference,.
On fast at Hardwar since June 22, Agrawal was seeking tangible steps to cleanse the Ganga.The activist was seeking specific assurances to maintain Ganga’s unfettered flows without construction of hydro-projects and mining projects in the river basin.
In response to the question, the Union Minister said Government had already notified maintenance of e-flows in the river which ensures a certain level of water. ‘This will ensure that the river never runs dry,’ he said.
Mr Gadkari had said Agrawal’s demand for a law on Ganga was also being met as a draft Bill had been sent to the Union Cabinet for approval. Among other measures, the law envisages construction of Sewage Treatment Plans and effluent plants by industry. It provides for penalties for polluting the river.
On the third demand for allowing Ganga flows to be ‘aviral,’ Mr Gadkari said that all stakeholders would be consulted on future hydro-projects in the river basin and only after that will the Ministry, in consultation with Niti Aayog and the Prime Minister’s Office, take a decision.
GD Agrawal was consuming only honey and water to make his voice heard. He had earlier also been on an indefinite fast in 2012 and had called it off after assurances from Government.
Educated at IIT Roorkee and the University of California, Berkeley, Agrawal was a known figure in the field of environmental engineers in India and was the Patron of an Non-Govermental Organisation named Ganga Mahasabha founded in 1905 by statesman Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.
A member of the Central Pollution Board, Agrawal was known for successfully campaigning in 2009 against the construction of dams on the Bhagirathi River.
Mr Gadkari had said Government will be able to show some outcomes by March-end next year and more results by end of 2020 March.Mr Gadkari and Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharti had appealed to GD Agrawal to call off his fast. ‘In view of the steps taken by the government, GD Agrawalji should call off his fast,’ the minister had said.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in a condolence message, said,”eminent environmentalist GD Agarwal who fought throughout the life to save Ganga river from pollution, death while fasting is a very tragic incident. May his soul rest in peace.”
Activist-lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, also condoled the death of the environmentalist.“GD Agarwal, our leading environmentalist who fasted 109 days to save the Ganga, was forcibly picked up by the Uttarakhand police and admitted to hospital yesterday.He passed away today after his pleas to save the Ganga fell on Modi’s deaf years. RIP Dear Sir. This world is not for pure souls,” he tweeted.