Environmental activist GD Agarwal, who passed away on Thursday at AIIMS Rishikesh following an indefinite fast demanding cleansing of River Ganga, was once a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and had also served as member-secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Agarwal, who took on the name Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand later in his life, began his fast on June 22, demanding steps to stop construction of hydroelectric projects along the river’s tributaries and enact the Ganga Protection Management Act. The 86 year-old seer had also given up drinking water on Wednesday. Before his death, he wrote a letter alleging that the Haridwar administration officials forcibly shifted him from his protest site to AIIMS.
The activist sat on numerous protests during his lifetime and campaigned against the construction of projects along River Ganga. One of the most notable agitations Agarwal held was in 2010, when he fasted for 38 days, seeking scrapping of the 600 MW Lohari Nagpala project on Bhagirathi River since it hampered the free flow of water. The project was finally put off by a ministers’ panel. Sanand was also a member of National River Ganga Basin Authority during the UPA tenure.