Veteran environmentalist GD Agarwal passed away in Rishikesh today at 1.11pm after a 111-day fast to save the Ganga. 86-year-old Agarwal, former IIT-Kanpur professor, had given up solids on June 22. Subsequently, he also gave up water on October 9, 2018.
“Yesterday night, the administration picked up Guruji and he was sent to AIIMS-Rishikesh. Today morning, he was administered salts via drip. He refused to take glucose,” says Jagat Narayan Mishra, Agarwal’s aide. As his condition deteriorated, the doctors decided to send him to AIIMS-Delhi. He refused that too. “I spoke to him last at 12.30pm and left. He also got an interview recorded saying that the central government has failed to meet his demands, and therefore, he would not give up his fast. He breathed his last about an hour later. The AIIMS-Rishikesh director has said that he died of heart attack,” he adds.
Incidentally, Agarwal, in an interview to DownToEarth last month had told that by then he had only given up food, but by Dussehra he would give up water too. “Dus October se mein jal chhod doonga; dussehra se purb mera pranaant ho jayega. Mera pranaant ho jaane se mujhe koi afsos nahi hoga. Par mere prano ka ant Ganga ko bachane ke prayaso ka ant nahi hoga (I will give up fluids from October 10 and I would die before the Dussehra. I will have no regrets even if I die in the course of saving the Ganga. The end of my life would not mean the end of efforts being undertaken to save the river)…” were his prophetic words.
Agarwal had been fighting for the uninterrupted flow of the river for the last 40 years. He opposed all the projects for which water was being diverted from the Ganga and its tributaries, thus, almost killing their natural flow. He had clarified that he was not against the projects, unless they were built at the cost of the Ganga.
On the call of Agarwal, who was the first member secretary of Central Pollution Control Board, the previous governments, including the UPA, had rejected new projects on the river. However, this time, despite sending its emissaries, including the director general of Namami Gange, R R Mishra to him, the government failed to understand and fulfill his demands.
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