Activist, on fast for 114 days, dies in Rishikesh

The IITian-turned seer Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand alias Prof GD Agarwal (87) breathed his last at AIIMS Rishikesh. He was on a hunger strike in a bid to urge the government to clean river Ganga.

According to the doctors, Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand died because of weakness and a heart attack. On October 9, Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand after failing to reach any conclusions during the talks with MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, gave up water. The police forcefully arrested Swaroop Sanand from Maitri Sadan on  October 10 and  admitted to AIIMS Rishikesh.

He had begun his fast on June 22 in the Matri Sadan ashram in Haridwar, demanding a law that will protect River Ganga, maintain its uninterrupted flow in its natural form between Gangotri to Uttarkashi and keep the river clean.

An environmental activist for decades, he formally became a ‘swami’ in 2011 at the age 79. Even before that he had undertaken a number of fasts for environmental causes, the most notable being 2009 fast demanding to stop the construction of dams on the Bhagirathi River.

The Bengaluru based Environment Support Group (ESG) accused that Dr. Agarwal has died due to the callousness of the Government not taking action to stop the river’s pollution. He has also died due to the unwillingness of the Judiciary to enforce multiple rulings about tackling the river’s pollution.

From the high reaches of the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, ESG said that this mighty river is being intensely polluted and its watershed extensively destroyed. Yet, no one has gone to jail.  But the one man who gave everything he could to save the river, has now been put to death.

ESG has given a call that we must force the Government to take immediate steps to stop destroying the Ganga, and all other rivers.  The Indian Government is seriously compromising the nation’s ecological, economic and health security by promoting reckless dam building, over extraction of water, deforestation, wanton industrial and urban pollution, sand mining, river linking, and promoting land-use changes destroying riverine watersheds and this must end.

For Local News and Immediate Delivery, download our Android App