GD Agarwal begins fast unto death to save Ganga

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Uttarkashi, Jun 13 (UNI) Veteran Environmentalist G D Agarwal today began his fast unto death to protect the Bhagirathi river from various hydro projects of the state government.

The 74-year-old's fast began with a 'havan' performed at Manikarnika Ghat around 0830 hrs this morning. Incidentally, the former dean of IIT Kanpur selected the day of his fast to coincide with the festival of Ganga Dusherra today.

Dr Agarwal had demanded that the Bhagirathi river, a tributory of the holy river Ganga, be allowed to flow uninterrupted in its original form from Uttarakashi to Gangotri.

He had claimed that various dams being constructed on the river will ''swallow'' its identity once large tunnels are built to drain its flow to alternate routes and render thousands of villagers homeless.

Lending steam to his campaign were Magsaysay winners Rajendra Singh and M C Mehta and former General Secretary of the BJP N Govindacharya besides various NGOs.

Talking to UNI, Mr Rajendra Singh said people all over the country were observing a fast to protect their sacred river.

He said in the name of development, the state government was giving its green signal to projects, which threatened the very existance of the river, besides affecting the state's environment.

''The campaign to save the Ganga will continue until the state government realises that constructing dams along the river have to stop,'' he said.

Tomorrow, groups of 10 activists each will observe a fast which will continue on rotational basis, he informed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister B C Khanduri has assured masses that the hydro projects would benefit them in the long run and did not pose any such environmental threat.

On Wednesday, he inaugurated the 480 MW Pala Maneri Hydro Project. Built at a cost of Rs 1922 crore on river Bhagirathi, the project would generate 1880 million units of power once its completed by 2012.

Other dams on the anvil include Maneri Bhali Phase-II (304 MW), Koteshwar (400 MW),Bhairon Ghati(381 MW) Lohari Nagpala (600 MW) and Jad Ganga (200 MW).

UNI PB ATI RAI1740

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