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 email@example.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
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
- To Save the Bhagirathi: Prof.G. D. Agrawal's Satyagraha
- Update on: Dr. Agrawal's fast to save the Bhagirathi
- Access a Map of the Ganga River Basin on IWP here
- The effect of dams on the environment and climate change are addressed in this post on the Blog: "Mountains of Concrete: Dam Building in the Himalayas"
- Parineeta Denadekar discusses in depth the Eflow situation in India: Environmental Flows for Indian Rivers: The Need and the Urgency
- The ground reality of Eflows is brought out by Chetan Pandit here: An Unique Perspective - Eflows in india