Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, 11 October expressed condolences over the death of IIT professor-turned-environmentalist and Ganga activist GD Agarwal.
Taking to Twitter, PM Modi said that his passion towards Ganga cleaning will always be remembered.
Agarwal passed away on Thursday, 11 October in Haridwar after having giving up food and water in his quest to save the river Ganga.
Agarwal, who was also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, had stopped eating in June earlier this year. After getting admitted to AIIMS Rishikesh on Thursday morning, Agrawal was told by doctors that he had critical shortage of potassium in his blood and was on the initial stage of dehydration.
Agarwal, who was fasting unto death, was surviving on just three glasses of water since June 22, reported The Print.
The IIT-Kanpur professor-turned-saint was demanding enactment of a Ganga Protection Management Act along with halting hydropower projects along the tributaries of Ganga, Alakanda and Mandakini, which in turn had started choking and polluting the rivers.
‘Forcible Hospitalisation is Violation of My Freedom’: Agarwal
Addressing the press before he was taken to the hospital on 10 October, Agalrwal had said that he would not be forced into hospitalisation, and doing so would be a violation of his freedom by the administration.
Agarwal had penned a letter himself on Thursday morning alleging that he was forcibly lifted from Matri Sadan and shifted to AIIMS Rishikesh, where doctors told him he was facing critical shortage of potassium in his blood.
Here is the full text of Agarwal’s final letter on the day of his demise after he was taken to AIIMS Rishikesh:
Yesterday, October 10, 2018 at around IPM Haridwar administration forcibly lifted me from Matri Sadan and got me admitted to AIIMS Rishikesh. The doctors at AIIMS were very supportive of my cause and my tapasya for conservation and rejuvenation of mother Ganga ji.
However as a professional institution for medical treatment, they said they had only three options: (i) forced feeding oral or nasal, (ii) forced IV, (iii) no hospitalization. Detailed tests and investigations revealed critical shortage of potassium in my blood (only 1.7 against a minimum of 3.5) and initial set up of dehydration.
On persuasion, I have agreed to accept potassium being administered to me both orally and 500 ml/ day IV. I heartily thank AIIMS for their support too my cause of tapasya.
Spearheading the movement to preserve India’s river, touted to be the holiest across the world, Agarwal had told The New Indian Express that if the draft of Ganga Protection Management Act is enacted by Parliament, most of the problems of Ganga river would be resolved for a long time.
Ganga Project Another Jumla: Congress
A number of Opposition leaders on Thursday condoled Agarwal’s demise and blamed the Centre for not doing enough for the conservation of Ganga.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, while speaking to ANI, asked i the Modi government’s Ganga project was another jumla.
Senior Lawyer Prashant Bhushan also took to Twitter to slam the government.
Former Union Minister Uma Bharti said that she feared something like this would happen.
“I am shocked by his demise. I had feared that this would happen. I have informed Nitin Gadkari and others about his demise,” she told ANI.
Reacting to Agarwal’s death, AAP leader and party’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh said the activist was on an indefinite hunger strike for more than 100 days and the “insensitive government” was “waiting for him to die”.
“I had requested the government to save it, but those seeking vote on his name could not save him (sic),” Singh tweeted.
Senior Congress leader and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh expressed anguish over his “martyrdom”.
“He was an indefatigable crusader not only for Nirmal Ganga but also for Aviral Ganga. It was my privilege and good fortune to be able to implement some of his important suggestions to ensure uninterrupted flow in the Ganga and its tributaries in Uttarakhand. I salute his commitment and dedication, his scholarship and learning, his faith and passion,” Ramesh said.
Had Accepted Most of Agarwal’s Demands: Govt
The government has said that almost all the demands made by Agarwal had been accepted.
On Wednesday, Water Resources and Ganga River Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari had said, “We have accepted almost all his demands (on cleaning of the Ganga). One demand was to to ensure environmental flow and we have come out with a notification.” The government on Tuesday had come out with the e-flow gazette notification.
The second demand, Gadkari said, was to bring a legislation to protect the Ganga. He said the legislation has been sent to Cabinet for approval, following which it will be tabled in Parliament.
“He had some demands related to (upcoming) hydro-power projects (on river Ganga). We are trying to bring all stakeholders together and sort the issue at the earliest. I had also written a letter to him stating that we have accepted nearly 70-80 percent and that we need him and he should stop his fast,” the minister had said.