Skip to main content

Ganga flows… with blood? Eco-crusader passes away after his pleas to save the river fell on Modi's "deaf" ears

By Sheshu Babu*
'Naitikta nasht hui ... Manavta bhrasht hui
Nirlajya bhav se behti ho kyon ...'
( Morality is destroyed ... Humanity has been corrupted
Why do you flow in this shameless way?)
– From ' Ganga behti hai kyon' by Pundit Narendra Sharma and lyrics rendered by Bhupen Hazarika

One of the present government's prime missions was to clean Ganga. It boasted of a flagship programme 'Namami Gange' but could not care to listen to the real fighter who was on fast since June 22 demanding concrete action to cleanse Ganga by not allowing industrial waste causing pollution and health problems to people.
Environmentalist GD Agrawal, who suffered cardiac arrest, has passed away. He was administered a potassium and heart related medicine, said a doctor at All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rhishikesh. He was demanding steps to make Ganga ' aviral' (free flowing) and clean.
The 86- year old former professor of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, had been demanding a ban on all hydroelectric projects along the tributaries of Ganga. besides enactment of the Ganga Protection Management Act. Agrawal sent several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, in 2014, had pledged on the banks of Ganga in Varanasi that immediate steps would be taken to clean the river. But, as IIT-ians for Holy Ganga, a forum formed to preserve the heritage and ecology of the river, has rightly observed, the government paid no heed to his demands.
GD Agrawal, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, who was also former chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, IIT, Kanpur, served on the board of the National Ganga River Basin Authority and was the first member-secretary of Central Pollution Control Board.
The government had also engaged him at various levels for advise on the health of the country's rivers. His demands included maintaining the environmental flow of the river to prevent pollution, removal of encroachments from the riverbank, and a special law to deal with the pollution of the river.
In July, he was forcibly removed from his fasting venue by police and taken to an undisclosed destination. Later, he filed a petition in the Uttarakhand High Court stating that his peaceful fast did not pose law and order problem to the state.
Many human rights activists, environmental experts and politicians have expressed their condolences. Activist Prashant Bhushan said that Agrawal passed away after his pleas to save the Ganga “fell on Modi's deaf ears”. He regretted “this world is not for pure souls”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "Rs 22,000 crore was allotted for cleaning it (Ganga) but not even one-fourth of it has been used."
Aam Admi Party leader Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha MP, termed government as 'insensitive', adding,the BJP garnered votes on the name of Ganga but could not save the Son of Ganga (Agrawal).
Even the ruling party members, including the Prime Minister and Union minister Uma Bharati (who vowed to clean Ganga) expressed grief, but their inaction and lack of political will is palpably visible.
Despite fasting for almost 111 days, the government failed to assure Agrawal and could not stop him from fasting. He had tried his best but when he realized that the rulers are unmoved, he stopped taking even water and honey for the last few days, leading to his demise.
Today, Ganga is smeared with blood of its loving son. Will the powers-that-be initiate any concrete step in future?
---
*The writer from anywhere and everywhere is supporter of human rights. Whenever he ponders on the question 'Who am I?', he receives response from a lyric by Bhupen Hazarika, 'Ami ekti jajabor' (I am a gypsy)

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
Modi is not going to say anything about anything till election time except, of course, to bash Congress and Rahul. This has been his policy since 2014. If his party does as well as then, or better, he might start speaking up.

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…