Fasting since June to save river Ganga, Prof. G. D. Agarwal dies

Written by CJP | Published on: October 12, 2018

Environmental Support Group claims that Dr. Agarwal died due to the callousness of the Government and not taking any action to stop the river’s pollution. He also died due to the unwillingness of the Judiciary to enforce multiple ruling tackling the river’s pollution


GD Agarwal
 
Rishikesh: Noted environmentalist and Ganga river crusader Prof. GD Agarwal passed away due to a heart attack at the age of 86. He was taken to AIIMS Rishikesh where he was pronounced dead. He had been on an indefinite fast since June 22 demanding action over the river clean up.
 
In the course of his 111 day fast, he was only consuming water mixed with honey and had stopped the intake of water on Oct 9. “GD Agarwal, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, was shifted by the police from Haridwar to AIIMS in Rishikesh yesterday after being on fast for 109 days. An AIIMS doctor said he suffered from hernia, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease and the fast worsened his condition,” reported NDTV.
 
“Dr. Agarwal refused to take water two days ago, as none of the state governments of the Gangetic basin, the Central Environment Ministry, the Water Resources Ministry or the Prime Minister’s Office did anything to respond to his Sathyagraha and take action to clean the Ganga and save her for posterity. Dr. Agarwal also demanded government must stop construction of hydroelectric projects along the river’s tributaries and enact the Ganga Protection Management Act to ensure the river has a chance to come back to life,” said the Environment Support Group.
 
Dr. Agarwal has served as a faculty member of IIT Kanpur, guided the Central Pollution Control Board as Member Secretary in taking tough action against industrial and urban polluters, and ensure our rivers flow free and healthy. He inspired thousands by his ascetic life and dedication to environmental causes.
 
ESG claims that Dr. Agarwal died due to the callousness of the Government and not taking any action to stop the river’s pollution. He died due to the unwillingness of the Judiciary to enforce multiple rulings tackling the river’s pollution. From the high reaches of the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, this mighty river is being intensely polluted and its watershed extensively destroyed. Yet, no one has gone to jail.  But the one man who gave everything he could to save the river, has now been put to death.
 
“We must force the Government to take immediate steps to stop destroying the Ganga, and all other rivers. The Indian Government is seriously compromising the nation’s ecological, economic and health security by promoting reckless dam building, over-extraction of water, deforestation, wanton industrial and urban pollution, sand mining, river linking, and promoting land-use changes destroying riverine watersheds. This must end,” the group said.
 
In the third and last letter to PM Modi, Prof Agarwal had told him that he had misled people into believing that he cared about the river when he only made a ministry to help industries and corporates.
 
Full text of the letter (sourced from The Wire)
 
In Your Service
Shri Narendra Bhai Modiji,
Respected Prime Minister, Government of India, New Delhi
 
Respected Prime Minister,
 
I have written a few letters to you in the past addressing matters related to Gangaji, but I have not received any response from you addressing them till now. I had a great confidence that after your becoming the Prime Minister you would think seriously about Gangaji because you have yourselves stated in the run up to 2014 elections in Banaras that you have come there because of the call given to you by Ma Gangaji — that very moment I came to believe that you would probably do something worthwhile for Gangaji and it is on account of that belief that I kept waiting in peace for the past four and a half years. You would probably be aware that I have undertaken several fasts in the past seeking actions in favour of Gangaji and earlier accepting the grounds for my insistence ((sic) erstwhile Prime Minister Shri) Manmohan Singh ji decided to stop as well as cancel all activities in a major project like Lohari Nagpala which was already 90% complete by then, because of which the Government had to bear the brunt of the loss of thousands of crores rupees, yet the Government under Manmohan Singh ji went ahead and did this for the sake of Gangaji. Over and above this the then Government went ahead and declared the stretch of flow of Bhagirathi ji from Gangotri to Uttarkashi as an Eco-Sensitive Zone so as to ensure that activities that may cause harm to Gangaji never occur.
 
It was my expectation that you would go two steps forward and make special efforts for the sake of Gangaji because you went ahead and created a separate Ministry for all works relating to Gangaji, but in the past four years all actions undertaken by your Government have not at all been gainful to Gangaji and in her place gains are to be seen only for the Corporate Sector and several business houses. Till now you have only thought on the point of earning profits from Gangaji. You do not seem to be giving anything to Gangaji, such is the impression created by all of your projects in relation to Gangaji. Even if for the sake of making a statement you may say that there is nothing to take from Gangaji but only give her from our side.
 
On the 03.08.2018 CE, Union Minister Sadhvi Uma Bharti ji came to meet me. She made me speak to Nitin Gadkari ji on phone, but the response is expected from you. It is therefore that I could not give any reply to Sushri Uma Bharti ji. It is my request to you that you accept the following four desired requirements which remain the same as I have listed in my previous letter written to you dated 13th of June 2018, failing which I will give up my life continuing my fast. I have no qualms about giving up my life because the issue of Gangaji is very significant to me and is of utmost priority. I was a Professor at an IIT and was member of the Central Pollution Control Board as well as that of Governmental organizations related to Gangaji. It is on the basis of my experiences gained over all these years of being part of these institutions, I can state that in the previous four years of your Government, there is not even a single action that can be said to be a fruitful one in the direction of saving Gangaji. It is my request, I repeat, that the following necessary actions be accepted and acted on. I am sending this letter through Uma Bhartiji.
 
Here are my four requests for necessary actions:
 
Bring the Draft Bill prepared by Ganga Mahasabha in 2012 [Draft of National River Gangaji (Conservation&Management) Act – 2012:
 
http://www.gangamahasabha.org/gm%20docs/Draft%20Proposal%20%20of%20Ganga%20Mahasabha.pdf ] for discussion in the Parliament immediately and get it passed (I, along with Advocate M.C. Mehta and Dr. Paritosh Tyagi were part of the committee in preparing this draft). In the event that this does not happen, then from the above draft bill, items from Chapter-1 (from Article-1 to Article-9) be brought into force by way of an immediate Presidential Ordinance.
 
As a part of the above stated exercise, cancel all the hydel power projects that are underconstruction over Alakananda , Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar and Mandakini and also cancel all the proposed hydel power projects on Gangaji and all feeder streams of Gangaji.
 
From the draft Bill mentioned above, Article 4(D)-1 cutting/deforestation and 4 (F) slaughtering/processing of living species/matter and 4(G) all types of mining activities be completely stopped and this be enforced and this be specifically enforced in Haridwar Kumbha-Kshetra.
 
Constitute a Ganga Bhakta Parishad provisionally (till June 2019 CE) in which there will be 20 members nominated by you, who are to take an oath standing in the waters of Gangaji that they will act only in the interests benefitting Gangaji and only Gangaji’s favourable interests and in relation to all actions pertaining to Gangaji, the opinion of this Parishad be taken as decisive.
 
Since I did not receive any response or reaction from you for my letter dated 13th June 2018, I have started my fast as stated in the letter from 22nd June 2018 and in that light, this is for your appropriate action quickly as well as with due thanks for the same.
 
Yours,
Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand
(formerly Prof. G.D. Agrawal)
 
Environment Support Group had the privilege of hosting Dr. Agarwal in August 2002 in delivering lectures in a workshop on “Judicial Enforcement of Environmental Law”, co-hosted by Karnataka Judicial Academy.  The two papers Dr. Agarwal presented the judiciary are attached.