Ex-IIT Professor GD Agarwal dies during fast-unto-death to save Ganga
Former IIT Kanpur Professor and Ganga activist, 87-year-old GD Agarwal, passed away on Thursday at AIIMS Rishikesh following a four-month-long hunger strike against authorities. The professor-turned-seer, also known by his later name, Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, suffered a heart attack around 1pm today, a couple of days after he gave up his only intake - water with honey. Here are the details.
Acknowledging his persona and his drive, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed Professor GD Agarwal as the first Member Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
On June 22, Prof Agarwal started a 'fast-unto-death' to force authorities' hands in saving the Ganga. Despite PM Modi's promise in 2014 to clean up Ganga, reports suggested that nothing much has been done. This prompted Prof Agarwal to go on a fast. His demands included stopping of construction of all hydroelectric projects on Ganga, and the enactment of the Ganga Protection Management Act.
As the fast neared a month, activists supporting Prof Agarwal's cause intensified their protests. The protest was joined by former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat, and 'Waterman' Dr. Rajendra Singh in July, and the duo tried to gather political support to save Prof Agarwal's life. They planned a Rishikesh-Delhi yatra, and also met Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi, and rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav.
"If the draft is enacted by Parliament, most of the problems of Gangaji would be resolved for a long time...I will break my fast the day it is passed. This is my last responsibility," Prof Agarwal had told The New Indian Express in July.
On Monday, addressing a press conference at the Matri Sadan ashram in Haridwar, Prof Agarwal had said that neither the Centre nor state governments are committed to cleaning up the Ganga and that they were "behaving like dictators". The professor-turned-seer also added that he and other activists had written several letters to PM Modi and the Water Resources Ministry, but in vain.
"I've been on fast for past 109 days and now I've decided to take my tapasya forward and sacrifice my life for the Ganga river. My fast will finish with my death," Prof Agarwal told ToI on Monday. Subsequently, he stopped taking water with honey.