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‘ 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 mission was cleaning Ganga. It boasted of a flagship program ‘ 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 suffered cardiac arrest. He was administered a potassium and heart related medicine, told a doctor at AIIMS, Rhishikesh to ANI. (Environmentalist GD Agrawal dies after fasting to save Ganga … October 11, 2018, indiatvnews.com). He was demanding steps to make ganga ‘ aviral’ (free flowing) and clean.

The 86- year old former professor of IIT Kanpur has been demanding a ban on all hydroelectric projects along the tributaries of ganga besides enactment of the Ganga Protection Management Act . ( October 11, 2018, outlookindia.com). Agrawal sent several letters to the Prime Minister who, in 2014 pledged on the banks of ganga in Varanasi that immediate steps would be taken to clean ganga. But the government paid no heed to his demands, said ‘ IIT-ians for Holy Ganga’ , a forum formed to preserve the heritage and ecology of the river.

Brief sketch

G D Agrawal, also known as swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, has earlier held the chair at Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering , Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He 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 to advise them on the health of the country’s rivers. ( Oct 11, 2018, scroll.in). 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 undisclosed destination. Later, he filed a petition in Uttarakhand High Court stating that his peaceful fast did not pose law and order problem to State.

Condolences

Many human rights activists, environmental experts and politicians 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 also 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 1/4 th of it has been used..” Aam Admi Party leader Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha MP termed government as ‘ insensitive’ opined that the bjp garnered votes on the name of Ganga but could not save the son of ganga (Agrawal). Even the ruling party members including PM and 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.
To- day, 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 the writer ponders on the question ‘ who am I?’, He receives response from a lyric by Bhupen Hazarika, ‘ ami ekti jajabor’ ( I am a gypsy). Some of the works appeared in dissident voice, poemHunter.com, tuckmagazine.com, counterview.org, counterview.net, velivada and virasam.org, etc)

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