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

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”