Union Environment and Forest Minister Anil Madhav Dave passed away at the age of 60 early Thursday. He was Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change since July 2016. Dave, who was well-known for his work on Narmada conservation, had also founded the ‘Narmada Samagra’ organisation that worked for the conservation of Narmada and its catchment.
“Big dams older than 20 years need to be put through a social and economic audit to see what we gained from them and what we lost, and whether their utility still remains,” he had said in one of his Parliamentary speeches.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Thursday saying he had been with the minister on Wednesday evening. “I was with Anil Madhav Dave ji till late last evening, discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss,” he tweeted. Dave would have turned 61 this July.
While attending a seminar of ‘Nadi Jal Paryavaran Sanrakshan Manthan’ (River Water Environment Conservation Session) on Monday, Dave urged those living near the Narmada to opt for chemical-free farming. “It is absolutely necessary to stop the use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture as it is causing irreparable damage to vital organs, like kidneys and others, of human beings,” he said.
Dave had been a Rajya Sabha MP representing Madhya Pradesh in Parliament since 2009 and also served as vice-president of the BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit. An RSS swayamsewak, Dave did not marry and hailed from Barnagar, Ujjain. An M.Com degree-holder from the Gujarati College in Indore, He has authored several books in Hindi and two in English, including ‘From Amarkantak to Amarkantak’ and ‘Beyond Copenhagen’.
From his past speeches and writings, Dave came across as a staunch “swadeshi” who prefers indigenous farming, and use of Hindi and other regional languages in public discourse. While talking about why he prefers to be on a fruit diet when travelling abroad, Dave had once said, “They mix cow meat in many things and I do not want to touch cow meat even by mistake.”
The minister had also been a member of the Committee on Water Resources, a member of the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. He had also been a member of the Parliamentary Forum on Global Warming and Climate Change from March 2010 to June 2010. Apart from initiating a programme for the development of bio-toilets in Hoshangabad schools, Dave had chosen to adopt Jahanpur Panchayat, near the banks of river Narmada, as part of ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’.
In his introductory speech at the ministry, Dave had said he was an “accessible person” who was open for a conversation. “I work hard. Since I do not have kids and don’t have to take them out in evenings, you might have problems (due to late working hours). But I will ensure that your evenings and dinners are not spoiled,” he had said.