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

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.