- Environmental activist GD Agarwal was on an indefinite fast since June 22
- He had been urging the government to clean river Ganga
- He was shifted by police from Haridwar to AIIMS in Rishikesh yesterday
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.
The noted environmentalist had a heart attack.
The Ganga activist sat on a fast demanding steps that would protect the river and maintain its uninterrupted flow between Gangotri and Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.
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.
Reports suggest the 'Clean Ganga' activist was only consuming water mixed with honey during his fast. Two days ago, he had reportedly also given up water after talks on his demands failed.
However, a day before the activist died, Union Water Resources and Ganga River Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari had said almost all his demands had been met and he had written a letter to GD Agarwal to give up his fast.
On Tuesday, the centre had come out with a gazette notification stating the minimum environmental flow that is to be maintained at various locations on the Ganga. Mr Gadkari had said the draft legislation on protecting the Ganga had also been sent to the Cabinet for approval.
GD Agarwal had sent several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had in 2014 pledged on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi that immediate steps would be taken to ensure cleaning of the holy river. However, the government paid no heed to his demands, said 'IITians for Holy Ganga', a forum formed to preserve the heritage and ecology of the river.
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.
GD Agarwal was once a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He had also served as a Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB.
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.
With inputs from agencies