Protesting broken promises: Dr. G.D. Agrawal resumes fast-unto-death

Updates on Dr. G.D Agrawal's fast


G.D. Agarwal

Images of a dying river, handwritten Press releases & more: Images of a Struggle on Flickr Charging the Government of India with not keeping its solemn commitment to keep the River Bhagirathi alive in its pristine stretch from Gangotri to Uttarkashi, Dr. G.D. Agrawal has resumed his fast-unto-death from Makar Sankranti Day, Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009.

You may recall that Prof. G. D Agrawal, former Professor & Dean of Students at IIT-Kanpur, the first Member-Secretary of India's Central PollutionControl Board and one of India's foremost environmental scientists went on a fast from June 13, 2008 to seek uninterrupted flow of River Bhagirathi (Ganga) in its natural form between Gangotri and Uttarkashi. His demand was very limited & specific, i.e., that the River Ganga be allowed to flow in its natural form in this 125 km stretch from its origin. This is the only stretch left now where the Ganga can still be seen in its pristine form. Dr. Agrawal requested the Govt. of India & the State Govt. of Uttarakhand to stop construction of Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs) in this stretch so that river flow was not diverted through tunnels that would destroy its ecology and its unique self-purifying properties. (diagrams are provided in the attached press release). Indians across the world got sensitized and lent their support to Prof Agrawal. Many wrote or met the PM of India and the CM of Uttarakhand and requested them to protect the Holy Ganga , whom Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru described as India's civilizational identity.

The protest forced the Govt of Uttarakhand to suspend work on two state-sponsored HEPs. After the intervention of a group of IITians and others, the Government of India gave a commitment in writing on 30th June 2008 'to ensure perennial environmental flows in all stretches of River Bhagirathi and to keep it alive'. It decided to appoint a group of experts to study the issue and recommend ways to achieve this in three months. On this assurance Dr. Agrawal suspended his fast on June 30, 2008 after 18 days. But he also warned the government that he would resume his fast if this commitment was not kept. In a cunning move, the GoI asked the Chairman of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to form a group of experts to determine the environmental flows that would be required to keep the Bhagirathi alive in the entire 125km stretch. NTPC, a public sector corporation, is building a dam at Loharinag, barely 50 kms downstream of Gangotri. The consequent High Level Experts Group was packed with serving engineers , none of whom has even a working knowledge of the subject of environmental flows and being on the government payrolls dare not take an independent stance. Not surprisingly, the steamroller majority of officials is loath to release the environmental flows required to keep the river alive. In the meantime, NTPC has continued construction of its Loharinag-Pala HEP. More than six months have passed, the group of experts has not yet submitted its report and the pristine character of the river continues to be destroyed. They have not taken cognizance of the recent declaration by the Prime Minister of the Ganga as India's National river and his announcement of the formation of a Ganga River Basin Authority to take all decisions on activities in the Ganga Basin. The PM himself is the head of this Authority.

Preturbed at this insensitivity, Prof Agrawal has resumed his fast from Makar Sankranti Day ie from Wednesday, 14th Jan 2008. He is sitting at the Hindu Mahasabha Bhavan, Near Birla Mandir, New Delhi. 

Prof Agrawal does not belong to any party or group. He is an individual entity but an organization by himself. He is a true saint rarely seen these days.

You can write directly to him at bhagirathibachaosankalp@gmail.com and express your support. 

The press release can be downloaded as a doc file here: Bhagiratjhi Bachao

Access the Announcement on the People's Science Institute website here: Dr. G.D. Agrawal resume Fast-Unto-Death

The People's Science Institute home page can be accessed here

A related press note providing background information on the struggle can be accessed here:The Struggle - August 26th

Relevant News Clippings

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Press Release on the 3rd day of the Fast

Environmentalist Dr. G.D. Agarwal fast unto death against Lohari Nag Pala Power Project enters third day


New Delhi, January 16, 2009: Renowned environmentalist Dr. G.D. Agarwal has said that the 520 MW Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower Project under construction on the Bhagirathi river in Uttarakhand was destroying the river Ganga. He was speaking to people from a cross section of society who met him at Akhil Bhartiya Mahasabha Bhawan, Delhi, where he began his fast unto death on Wednesday, January 14. Addressing media persons at the site of his fast-unto-death against the continued desecration of the river Ganga, Dr. Agarwal demanded immediate stoppage of all construction work at the project site. Stating that as a student of environment, he was pained at the continued destruction of the river Ganga and its environment. He said that he was now left with no other option than to die, especially since the government had failed to protect the sanctity of the Ganga even as it declared it to be India's national River. On the third day, his supporters who visited him included Mr. Govindacharya, Mr. Animesh from NEERI, Nagpur, National Vice President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Mr. Om Prakash Singhal, Mr. Raj Kumar Goel, Mr. Mukesh Sharma of IIT (Kanpur), Dr. Vinod Kumar Mishra and Mr. Vivek Umrao, MCIJ, Australia. Mr. Govindacharya in his statement said that he supported Dr. Agarwal as he felt that the proposed move by the Centre and the state governments to build a series of dams on Himalayan rivers would sound the death knell for these rivers and endanger the overall environment. Dr. Agarwal, who has served as the Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering at IIT, Kanpur, had earlier undertaken a fast-unto-death in June last year to press for his demand for allowing free and unhindered flow of Bhagirathi river between Gangotri and Uttarkashi. 

For further information, please contact: Anil Gautam-0135-2762516, 9412176896 Pavitra Singh 011-32088803, 9410706109

Download the Press Release here:Third Day Press Release - English, Third Day Press Release - Hindi

Related Knowledge Resources from India Water Portal

Read our earlier postings when Dr. Agarwal first started a fast-unto-death

Government of India's decision to declare the Ganga as the national river is a farce: Dr. G.D. Agrawal

New Delhi, January 22, 2009: Renowned environmentalist Dr. G.D. Agarwal's fast-unto-death for putting an immediately halt to all construction activities on the 600 MW Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower Project in Uttarakhand, continued for the ninth day on January 22, 2009.

In a statement issued today, Dr. Agrawal termed as "farce", the Centre's decision to declare the Ganga as the National River. He said the government has not come up with any notification to match its announcement nor it has initiated any official activity in connection with the matter.

Dr. Agrawal, while interacting with media persons at Akhil Bhartiya Mahasabha Bhawan, Delhi, the site of his fast-unto death, said that the government, in order to show its sincerity in the matter of declaring the Ganga as the National River, had merely handed it over to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).

Meanwhile, ever increasing number of people are visiting Dr. Agrawal at Akhil Bhartiya Mahasabha Bhawan, Delhi, to express their support to him. Among those who visited Dr. Agrawal today include "Waterman of India"Rajendra Singh, noted Supreme Court Lawyer Prashant Bhushan and his wife Deepa Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal (Magsaysay award winner), Structural Engineer Dr. K.S. Chawla, Ms. Priya Patel (Arya Vihar, Uttarkashi), Ms. Shashi Tyagi of Jal Biradari, Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan's national chief Acharya Jitendra and its national secretary Mr. Rakesh Dubey, Mr. Rakesh Agarwal, (Nyayabhumi), Kailash Tiwari, Prem Dhingra and Mahesh Dubey (all from Bhopal), Mr. Diwan Singh of Natural Heritage Trust, Pani Baba Arun Kumar and Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director People's Science Institute, Dehradun. Besides, a large number of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, also met Dr. Agarwal and expressed their support for the cause.

Press Release for 22thJanuary marking the 9th day of the struggle (English):Press Release 22 - 01 - 09

More updates regarding Dr. Agarwal's struggle is available here:

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NTPC

Ganga's National river status being violated

More updates regarding Dr. Agarwal's struggle is available here:

NTPC's Loharinag-Pala dam violates Ganga's national river status: M.C. Mehta

New Delhi, January 21, 2009: Noted environment lawyer and Magsaysay Award winner Mr. M.C. Mehta has criticized the Central Government's indifferent attitude to renowned environmentalist Dr. G.D. Agarwal's demand to immediately halt all construction activities on the 600 MW Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower Project in Uttarakhand. Mr. Mehta met Dr. Agarwal today at Akhil Bhartiya Mahasabha Bhawan, Delhi, where he has been fasting-unto-death since Wednesday, January 14, and expressed his support for the cause.

Mr. Mehta asserted that the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) was causing irreversible damage to the river Bhagirathi by building a dam at Loharinag on it, completely ignoring the Government of India's decision to declare the Ganga as a national river.

"Waterman of India"Mr. Rajendra Singh, also expressed his support to the demands raised by Dr. Agarwal and warned that if the Centre failed to give any concrete response to the demands before January 28, 2009, the activists would be forced to launch an agitation on the issue. He said that the descendents of erstwhile princely estates which had entered into an agreement in 1916 with the then British government, to not allow any construction activity on the Ganga upstream of Haridwar, would also participate in the agitation. He said the river Ganga was a symbol of India's faith and culture and it was the life support system for the country's population resident in the northern plains. It becomes imperative on the part of the government, therefore, to completely halt all dam construction activities on the important river.

Among others who met Dr. Agarwal today to express their support for the cause included Swami Shivananda of Matra Sadan, Haridwar, who turned up at the site of fast-unto-death along with his disciples. In addition, Mr. Subodh Nandan Sharma and Lalit Tyagi of Brijghat, and others who visited Dr. Agarwal said that they would begin a Ganga Bachao Yatra on January 25, 2009 which would leave for Delhi the same day and reach there on January 28. Mr. Ghanshyam, founder of "Judao", a Jharkhand-based organsiation also met Dr. Agarwal.

Sourced from Press Release dated January 21, 2009

Images of a dying river, handwritten Press releases & more: 
Images of a Struggle on Flickr

Press Release for 20th January marking the 7th day of the struggle (Hindi):Dr. Agarwal's Fast Press Release 20 - 01- 09

Press Release for 19thJanuary marking the 6th day of the struggle (English): Activities of High Level Expert Group (HLEG) comes under a cloud                      

No government response yet to Environmentalist Dr. Agarwal's call to shelve Lohari Nag Pala Power Project; Fast-unto-death enters sixth day

New Delhi, January 19, 2009: Renowned environmentalist Dr. G.D. Agarwal's fast-unto-death in support of his demand for immediate halt to all construction activities on the 520 MW Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower Project entered its sixth day today on January 19, 2009. However, there was neither any official communication from the government on the issue nor any medical specialist turned up at the fast-unto-death site to examine the health conditions of the septuagenarian environmentalist.

In Uttarakhand, work continued unabated at the site of the power project under construction on the Bhagirathi river even after repeated assurances by the government that it would sympathetically look into the issue of maintaining minimum flow in the Himalayan rivers once the series of power project came up on these. In fact, the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) constituted by the Centre has come under a cloud for some of its recent activities during a visit to some of the project sites to study the minimum flow in the rivers. The HLEG was constituted in response to the last year's fast-unto-death undertaken by Dr. Agarwal. It has come to light that the HLEG members at the time of visit to the two power projects and some of the areas upstream of these projects, beforehand tutored and stage-managed the release of enhanced quantity of water from the barrage gates of Maneri Bhali I and II. This was ostensibly done to record and verify that minimum flows were being maintained in the river, a fact that has been reported by Amar Ujala (January 16, 2009). But as a result of this action, the Maneri Bhali reservoir became empty due to which there was no generation of power for a few days.

Criticizing the move, Dr. Agarwal said that he had been stating this all along that the nominee members of the HLEG are either NTPC supporters or they lacked the basic knowledge regarding maintaining minimum environmental flows.
On the other hand, Amar Ujala (January 17, 2009) has reported that that Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) has demanded a compensation of Rs. one hundred crore from National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) for causing serious damage to its power projects by careless execution of work on its power projects and letting its debris to flow freely in the Bhagirathi river. According to Dr. Agarwal, such incidents pointed to serious challenges that lay ahead for the environment of the entire region. He said that if the Power Corporation's losses could run into one hundred crore, the overall impact that such activities are having on the very life of the river Bhagirathi can well be imagined. He said that all construction activities should be stopped forthwith as there were more important technical aspects that needed to be addressed on a priority basis.

Speaking to his supporters who met him at Akhil Bhartiya Mahasabha Bhawan, Delhi, where he has been fasting-unto-death since Wednesday, January 14, Dr. Agarwal said that he was against the continued desecration of the river Ganga and its environment. He said that he was now left with no other option than to die, especially since the government had failed to protect the sanctity of the Ganga even as it declared it to be India's National River.
Dr. Agarwal, who has served as the Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering at IIT, Kanpur, had earlier undertaken a fast-unto-death in June last year to press for his demand for allowing free and unhindered flow of Bhagirathi river between Gangotri and Uttarkashi.

Meanwhile, there was no official response even on the sixth day of the fast-unto-death being undertaken by a septuagenarian Dr. Agarwal. Most of his supporters who visited him lamented the apathetic attitude of the government in not even sending a single medial professional to examine the condition of his health. Among those who visited him on Monday included Mr. Arun Kumar Ji Pani Wale Baba, Mr. PC. Tyagi, Former Chairman Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director People's Science Institute (PSI), Dehradun, Mr. Jai Bhagwan, Former State president of Shiv Sena, Mr. Mahesh Kumar, Antamia and Maya, Italy.

Download the Press Release here (.doc, English):
 Dr. G.D. Agarwal's Fast - Jan 19

Press Release for 30.01.09

Environmentalists, social activists organize collective fast in support of Dr. Agarwal

New Delhi, January 30, 2009: A congregation of environmentalists and social activists from various parts of the country today undertook a collective fast at Gandhi Darshan, in support of renowned environmentalist Dr. G.D. Agarwal, who is on fast-unto-death for putting an immediately halt to all construction activities on the 600 MW Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower Project in Uttarakhand. His fast-unto-death continued for the seventeenth day today.

In the morning, the congregation assembled at Gandhi Darshan on the occasion of Gandhiji's Martyrdom Day today and undertook the collective fast to express their support to Dr. Agarwal even as his fast to maintain uninterrupted flow in river Bhagirathi continued for the 17th day today.

"Waterman of India"Rajendra Singh, noted Supreme Court Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director People's Science Institute, Dehradun, Banwasi Sewa Ashram's Shubha Bahen and Abhimanyu from Chitrakoot, among others, were present on the occasion.

Dr. Agarwal, who has served as the Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering at IIT, Kanpur, had earlier undertaken a fast-unto-death in June last year to press for his demand for allowing free and unhindered flow of Bhagirathi river between Gangotri and Uttarkashi.

Download Press Release as .doc file here:Press Release - English, Press Release - Hindi

Press Release for 28.01.09

Erstwhile princely states' rulers pledge to protect and preserve Ganga's honour and dignity

New Delhi, January 28, 2009: Rulers of erstwhile princely states in India today pledged to unitedly impress upon the government to maintain the honour and dignity surrounding the river Ganga as well as its national river status. At a general meeting organized today in the campus of Gandhi Darshan, by "Waterman of India"Mr. Rajendra Singh in support demands raised by Dr. G.D. Agarwal on the issue, speakers said they were ready to shoulder the onerous duty of protecting the river Ganga.

Maharaja Gaj Singh, representing the erstwhile Jodhpur state, said that all concerned should come forward to protect the river Ganga and help in effectively highlighting the demands raised by Dr. Agrawal before the Centre. The today's meeting was organized in response to the earlier ultimatum that the erstwhile royalty had served upon the government that if it failed to stop work on the Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower project by January 28, 2009, they would launch an agitation on the issue. Members of the erstwhile royalty said their ancestors had entered into an agreement in 1916 with the then British government, to not allow any construction activity on the Ganga upstream of Haridwar.

Speaking on the occasion, Mahant Shivananda from Haridwar said that the river Ganga represented nation's honour which is supreme. But the government deceived Dr. Agarwal on the issue of maintaining the dignity and honour of the important river, he said. He said that all should unitedly forge a common front to prevail upon the government that issues of faith cannot be weighed in terms of pieces of silver. He appealed to the government to maintain the dignity, respect and honour of the national river.

Mahant Veer Bhadra from Sankatmochan Foundation, Varanasi, said that Lord Rama's name and the river Ganga were two important basic tenets of the Indian philosophy of life. He lamented the government was not taking the requisite steps to protect and preserve the river Ganga.
Former Tehri (Uttarakhand) ruler Manujendra Shah said that the flow the river Ganga should not be hindered.

Noted environmentalist Sunita Narain said that unhindered flow of water in a river is a pre-requisite to preventing pollution in it. She said that a river can be said to be alive only if it has a free flow of water in all its stretches. Ms. Narain said that detailed project report of hydro power project only document details of a particular project while completely ignoring the important factors governing the river's very existence. She said that Dr. Agarwal's efforts would result in the emergence of a new dawn on important environmental issues.

In his address to the gathering, Dr. Agarwal termed the river Ganga as the nation's identity. He said that maintaining pristine and natural flows in the upper reaches of the river is highly important. He said it is highly unfortunate that the river Ganga's festive spirit has been completely ignored by the people.

Mr. Digvijay Singh, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh said that there is a special place for the river Ganga in the hearts and minds of the people of India. Mr. Singh praised the efforts of Dr. Agarwal in raising important issues connected with faith and belief and urged all concerned to fully supported the cause of protecting the river Ganga.

Gandhi Peace Foundation's Radha Bahen said that Dr. Agarwal's commitment to the protection of the sanctity of the river Ganga is exemplary as it is not an ordinary river.

Download Press Release as .doc file here: Press Note - English,
Press Release for 25.01.09, Press Note - Hindi.

R.N. Singh resigns from HLEG in protest against its "unscientific attitude"

Says he recommended 16 cumecs of environmental flow while HLEG report has just 3 cumecs


New Delhi, January 25, 2009: In a major development, Mr. R.N. Singh, a senior member of the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) today resigned from the group in protest against what he termed as "official apathy on the part of HLEG in recommending maintenance of the required environmental flows in the river Bhagirathi". Mr. Singh, a scientist nominated by the Centre to the HLEG said that his repeated assertions of maintaining the required flow of 16 cumecs in the river Bhagirathi was not considered favourably by the HLEG.

Mr. Singh said as a scientist, he did not agree with the most unscientific way of working of the HLEG members. Stating that most members did not even have a science background, he said while he had recommended maintaining 16 cumecs of water in the river Bhagirathi as minimum environmental flow, the other members in the HLEG had decided otherwise. He said he felt unhappy at the mention of merely 3 cumecs in the HLEG's last draft report and hence resigned in protest. He said he was unhappy not only because his views on the issue had been totally ignored but also due to the unscientific methods being followed by the HLEG.

Today, noted preacher Sant Gopal Maniji Maharaj met Dr. G.D. Agrawal at Akhil Bhartiya Mahasabha Bhawan, Delhi, to express their support to him even as his fast to maintain uninterrupted flow in river Bhagirathi continued for the 13th day today. Sant Maharaj told Dr. Agrawal that there has been a deviation in the maintenance of cultural values and all those who are hell bent on killing the river Ganga in the name of development will have to face the consequences in the future. Dr. B.N. Pandey, a freedom fighter and organizing secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Swantantra Sangram Senani Sangathan, also met Dr. Agrawal and expressed his support. He said that his organization would do everything to help achieve the desired objectives.

Meanwhile, Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde assured a delegation of supporters of Dr. G.D. Agrawal that he would instruct maintenance of "shoulder-deep"water level in the entire stretch of the river Bhairathi. The minister said this when the delegation comprising of "Waterman of India"Mr. Rajendra Singh, Mr. S.K. Gupta, P.C. Tyagi, Mr. Pradeep Nagrath and Dr. Ravi Chopra, met him in Delhi on Saturday and apprised him of the demands.

People are coming in large numbers to meet and express their support to Dr. Agrawal. Today's visitors include noted environment lawyer and Magsaysay Award winner Mr. M.C. Mehta, Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director, PSI Dehradun and Rajendra Singh. Besides, a large number of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, also met Dr. Agarwal and expressed their support for the cause.

Dr. Agarwal, who has served as the Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering at IIT, Kanpur, had earlier undertaken a fast-unto-death in June last year to press for his demand for allowing free and unhindered flow of Bhagirathi river between Gangotri and Uttarkashi.

Download Press Release for 25.01.09:Press Release - English, Press Release - Hindi

News Clipping 25.01.09:

 Garhwal post

News Clipping 26.01.09

garhwal post 26-01-09

 

Monitoring of Bhagirathi river flow

Press Release for 24.01.09

Environmental Flows Needed in the Bhagirathi River Says Member, Planning Commission

Dr. G D Agrawal's fast to maintain uninterrupted flow in river Bhagirathi continued into the 11th day today. People are coming to meet and express their support to Dr. Agrawal. Today's visitors include Mr. Arvind Kejriwal (Magsaysay Award winner), M C Mehta, a Supreme Court lawyer and Magsaysay Awardee, Mr. Ashok Sharma, Advocate and ex state minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Dr. B. Sen Gupta, former Member-Secretary Central Pollution Control Board.

According to informed sources, a Member of the Planning Commission toured the Bhagirathi Valley last year and submitted a report to the Prime Minister. He wrote that the operation of Maneri Bhali Stage II Power Project had diverted the Ganga river water into a tunnel and there was practically no water between Uttarkashi and Dharasu, a stretch of 29 kms. He recommended that environmental flows be maintained for ecological functions of the river. This confirms the observations made by Dr. G. D. Agrawal earlier and also some members of the HLEG after their visits to the Bhagirathi valley.

Download Press Release as a .doc file here:Press Note - English 24.01.09Press Note - Hindi

Related articles on the blog can be accessed here: Updates & Press Releases: Dr. G.D.Agarwal's Fast,
Protesting Broken Promises: Dr. G.D. Agrawal resumes Fast-Unto-Death

Dr. G.D. Agrawal to continue his fast : 30th day: 12th Feb 2009

Dr. G.D. Agrawal, who is on a fast-unto-death against the construction of any project on the Bhagirathi between Gangotri and Uttarkashi has rejected the Union Ministry of Power's request to end his fast saying that he could only do so once the natural flow of the Bhagirathi between Gangotri and Uttarkashi is guaranteed by the government and all works on the Loharinag-Pala HEP are stopped.

Meanwhile, recent reports in Dehra Doon's local newspapers, attributed to highly placed sources, suggesting that the state government is likely to soon resume work on the Pala-Maneri and the Bhaironghati, hydro electric projects on the Bhagirathi, have been challenged by Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director, People's Science Institute, Dehra Doon. "These reports are contrary to the stated policy of the Government of India,"says Dr. Ravi Chopra.

Giving details Dr. Chopra said, "In a letter dated February 5th to Dr. G.D. Agrawal, the Union Ministry of Power states that the GoI has confirmed that no further hydroelectric projects will be undertaken on the Bhagirathi." Dr. Chopra also dismissed the claims of these highly placed sources that the Government of Uttarakhand would soon resume work on its suspended HEPs once the recommendation of the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) for 4 cumecs environmental flow downstream of the Loharinag-Pala HEP were accepted by the Government of India. "This recommendation of the HLEG has clearly been rejected by the Government of India. Referring to a meeting held with Union Minister of Power, Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde and the Minister of State Prime Minister's Office, Shri Prithiviraj Chavan, among others, the above-mentioned letter states that it has been agreed that the minimum flow of water from Lohari Nagpala barrage in the river bed during the lean period shall be ensured at 16 cumecs or as may be decided by the Ganga River Authority, which is under formation. The so-called highly placed sources appear to be highly motivated and are deliberately trying to mislead Uttarakhand's people and decision makers,"charged Dr. Chopra.  

Download the Press Release as a .doc file here:Dr. G. D. Agarwal's Fast Press Release 12.02.09


Dr. G.D. Agrawal calls off his fast on February 20, 2009

 

NOTED ENVIRONMENTALIST Professor GD Agarwal, on Friday (February 20), broke his fast after the government gave him assurance that the work will be stopped at 600 MW Loharinag-Pala hydel project on Bhagirathi.

Since January 14, Prof. Agarwal had been on his fast-unto-death, urging the government to discontinue all construction work that affected the water flow of the Bhagirathi. The contention of the noted environmentalist is that the very existence of the Ganges is being threatened by the construction of multiple barrages and hydro-electric projects planned along the Himalayan stretch of the Bhagirathi.

The decision was taken after a long meeting between the representatives of Bhagirathi Bachao Sankalp and Union Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

India's leading environmentalists and social activists had also come forward to support Prof Agarwal. On January 30, noted Gandhians of the country had also undertaken a collective fast to support Prof. Agarwal's cause.

Dr Agarwal is the doyen of environmental engineering in the country and is a much sought after Environmental Impact Assessment consultant. A former IIT Kanpur professor and the first member secretary of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), he played an important part in shaping India's pollution control regulatory regime.

Although weak, Prof. Agarwal's health is stable.

For further information, please contact: Anil Gautam-0135-2762516, 9412176896, Pavitra Singh 011-32088803, 9410706109

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