- Congress attacks government for "neglecting" GD Agarwal's pleas
- The activist died in Rishikesh after a heart attack
- He started his hunger strike on June 22 - his fifth since 2008
The Congress today launched a sharp attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing his government of "neglecting" the repeated pleas of environmentalist GD Agarwal, who died yesterday after a 111-day hunger strike to push his demand for a cleaner river. The government said most of his demands have been met.
A former secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, the country's premier anti-pollution body, GD Agarwal died in Rishikesh after a heart attack. The 86-year-old had been forcibly hospitalized by the local authorities on Wednesday after his health deteriorated.
Since starting his hunger strike on June 22 - his fifth since 2008 - GD Agarwal had been surviving on water mixed with honey. On Wednesday, he quit drinking that after talks regarding his demands failed.
Congress chief President Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "He ended his life to save the Ganga. Saving the Ganga in a true sense will be saving the country. We will never forget him. We will take his fight forward".
The Congress accused the Prime Minister of paying only "lip service" to the Ganga clean-up drive. "With over 70% of the funds allocated to Namami Gange unutilised, PM Modi has proved yet again that he excels in Jumlas and not much more," the party's tweet read.
"With an atrocious completion rate, Prime Minister Modi has focused on lip service rather than getting anything done on cleaning the Ganga," the party said, accusing Modi of "defrauding mother Ganges".
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who took over the water ministry from Uma Bharti in September last year, had said the government had accepted almost all of the activist's demands. A notification to ensure environmental flow has been issued and a second demand - legislation to protect the river was also to be met. The draft law is currently with the cabinet, he said.
Mr Gankari has also expressed hope that the river will be completely clean by March 2020.
A year after coming to power in 2014, PM Modi's government had launched the flagship Namami Gange mission with a budget of more than 20,000 crore. Most of the 221 projects under it are in advanced stages, the minister said.
Around 190 of the projects involve building sewage treatment plants, rural sanitation and bio-remediation. The projects are spread across Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar Jharkhand and Bengal.