Ganga is Dying. So are its Lovers. Anybody Cares?
Halabol Voices – 21st March, 2012
An 80-year-old IIT professor-turned-guru is on fast unto death since January 15. He has not taken a drop of water even since March 9. Dr. GD Agarwal is sacrificing his life for the sake of country’s most revered and also the National river while government sleeps tight. Can somebody wake them please?
Noted environmentalist and former IIT Professor GD Agarwal now known as Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand has been on the fast-unto-death since January 15 to save Ganga. He stopped drinking water since March 9 and his condition has deteriorated.
Recently he was airlifted from the ghats of Varanasi to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi (AIIMS) where he is continuing his fast.
Dr Agarwal has served as a secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, the country’s premier anti-pollution body, and helped put together environmental legislation in India. This is his third fast-unto-death in last four years.
His major concern includes unsatisfactory and ineffective functioning of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), a central government constituted body for cleaning Ganga.
Dr Agarwal is demanding the government take strong measures to protect the Ganga river and its ecology and keep it uninterrupted.
Besides, Dr Agarwal is against ongoing construction of dams/barrages/tunnels on Ganga which would totally destroy the natural flow regimes and quality of the river water, total failure of regulatory agencies in controlling discharge of urban and industrial wastes into the Ganga and complete lack of sensitivity of the government on these issues.
Magsaysay awardee Rajendra Singh says that Agrawal was on a “spiritual mission” to demand the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Ganges is banned and the water is cleaned of the industrial and human waste discharged into the river every day.
Rajendra Singh too resigned recently from the post of chairman NGRBA over “government’s insensitivity towards Agarwal and gross negligence towards worsening state of the holy river”.
Two other members of the NGRBA have also resigned over the issue. “We haven’t heard anything from the government since we sent our resignation,” said Singh.
The 2,500 km long Ganga, which Hindus believe washes away all sins, is polluted by sewage, discarded garbage and factory waste as it crosses the northern Indian plains.
The government of India has allegedly backtracked from its assurance to fund a Rs 53 crore innovative sewage treatment plant to clean up river Ganga, asking activists and scientists to scale down the plant from 37 MLD to 20MLD citing high costs.
Last year, another holy man, Swami Nigamanand, had died in the pilgrimage city of Haridwar after a fast to stop illegal mining of the Ganges riverbed.
Anna stands in support
Agarwal got support from anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, who met him at the AIIMS with Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia.
“Government is responsible for his condition” Anna said.
“How can our government become so insensitive and allow such a senior scientists to die. This is his third fast in last four years. Central government has gone back on all promises made to him during last fast,” he added.
Hazare’s close aide Arvind Kejriwal wrote this morning in a series of tweets in the media, urging the authorities to meet Aggarwal.
“There is no proper attempt to talk with him since last month by the Central Government. How can our government be so insensitive?” He said.