Dehradun, October 11: 86-year-old scientist GD Agarwal, who was on "fast unto death" since the last 112 days in Haridwar on the banks of river Ganga, died on Thursday. The deceased died of heart attack at AIIMS Rishikesh, where he was rushed to on Wednesday after his health deteriorated.
Agarwal, also referred to as Swami Sanand, had begun his indefinite hunger strike on June 22, demanding the central government to immediately halt all hydropower projects on the banks of Ganga. He also demanded the Centre to enact the Ganga Protection Management Act -- a draft legislation prepared by him to clean and rejuvenate the holy river. Ganga Will be Cleaned Before December, We Promise, Says Nitin Gadkari.
Speaking to reporters on Monday - the 109th day of his fast - Agarwal said he would end his hunger strike if the government accepts his demand to enact the legislation. On the same day, he decided to abandon the consumption of water mixed with honey -- "the only thing he was consuming once a day since June 22".
Agarwal's supporters had urged him to not to give up honey and water, as it could lead to his demise. The octogenarian, however, replied, "Many people die an unhappy death. If I can't save Gangaji, I find no reason to live."
During the course of his hunger strike, Agarwal had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior Ministers of the NDA government. However, the government reverted with only a statement appealing him to end the fast.
Notably, Agarwal is an alumnus of IIT-Kanpur, and has also headed the Civil and Environmental Engineering department of the varsity. He was the first member to be nominated by the Government of India in the Central Pollution Control Board. In 2007, he was also appointed as the head of National Ganga River Basin Authority.
In 2012, he resigned from both the posts, calling the bodies "toothless". Agarwal, instead, resorted to grassroot-level agitations to save the water bodies in northern India.