ONI Bureau: Veteran Environmentalist and former IIT-Kanpur Professor Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand alias Prof GD Agarwal breathed his last at AIIMS Rishikesh on Thursday. He was 87. Clean Ganga activist GD Agarwal was on an indefinite fast for the past 112 days to urge the Central government to clean and save River Ganga.
Worth mentioning, since 2008, Agrawal has engaged in four hunger strikes seeking to prevent the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Ganga. Reportedly, several parts of the holy river are choked by dams and industrial, agricultural, and human waste.
Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand (born 20 July 1932), was the Patron of an NGO named Ganga Mahasabha founded by Pt.Madan Mohan Malviya in 1905. He was a faculty member of IIT-Kanpur, a member of the Indian Central Pollution Control Board before becoming a Sanyaasi.
Agrawal lived a Gandhian lifestyle in his two-room cottage in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh. He was very unhappy with the state of affairs at the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), an empowered planning, financing monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganges under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. He had also rejected the Mission Clean Ganga-2020 plan saying it would meet the fate of Ganga Action Plan launched in 1986.
“”It is not possible for an individual or a group of people to decide the fate of the Ganga. The Shankaracharyas of all four peeths should have to sit together to save the Ganga,” he had maintained. He had launched fast-unto-death in 2008, 20009, 2013 and 2018 to save Rivers, including Bhagirathi and Ganga.
In February 2018, Agrawal urged PM Narendra Modi urging him to stop environmentally unfriendly projects and to ensure ‘aviral’ flow of the river in the upper stretches of river Ganga. He reminded the prime minister that “It will be four years in May when the Central government will complete four years in office but nothing has been done so far for the cause of Ganga”.
He later sat on fast unto death on June 22, 2018 at Haridwar. On the 19th day of his fast, police evicted from his fast venue to AIIMS Rishikesh. However, he got relief from the Uttarakhand High Court. The Govt tried to placate him through Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, but in vain. On 13th August, he was admitted to AIIMS again. Hed stopped drinking water and refused to take medicine or fluid/joice orally on October 9. However, he gave written consent to doctors for administering potassium orally and drip to provide 500ML saline fluid per day to maintain minimum fluid and electrolyte need of the body. On 11th October, he breathed his last.