Haridwar: Eighty-seven-year-old environmentalist Prof GD Agarwal alias Swami Gyanswarup Sanand, who was fasting for the past 111 days demanding a clean Ganga, died in Haridwar on Thursday.
On Wednesday, he was forcibly shifted to the AIIMS hospital from his Matri Sadan ashram after his health deteriorated significantly.
Environmentalist GD Agarwal, who was on fast unto death to save River Ganga since 22 June, passed away at AIIMS Rishikesh following a heart attack.
A former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, Agarwal had been demanding that steps be taken to make the Ganga ‘aviral’ (free flowing).
He wanted the government to stop the construction of all hydroelectric projects along the tributaries of the Ganga and the enactment of the Ganga Protection Management Act.
According to reports, Agarwal had several sent letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his fast, but after receiving no response from the government he had decided to further intensify his protest by giving his only intake of water, mixed with honey, a couple of days ago.
Prime Minister Modi had pledged in 2014, on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi, that he would ensure that the Ganga would be cleaned up by 2019. However, a parliamentary estimates committee which evaluated the government’s efforts to rejuvenate the Ganga concluded that the government’s actions have been far from enough.
Swami Sanand was also a member of National River Ganga Basin Authority during the UPA tenure. In 2010, he fasted for 38 days seeking scrapping of 600 MW Lohari Nagpala project on Bhagirathi River as it “hampers” free flow of water. Later, a three-member group of ministers scrapped the project.
In fact, this is the second death of a fasting seer demanding undisrupted flow of Ganga. In 2011, Swami Nigamanand (36) of Matri Sadan died after fasting for more than 2 months, seeking a ban on illegal mining in Ganga river.