Activists wage battle to save Bhagirathi

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Uttarakashi, Jun 17 (UNI) The battle to save the Bhagirathi in likely to shift to Delhi after the state government put the ball in the Centre's court to decide the fate of several hydel projects on the tributory of the Ganga.

Activists participating in the 'Save Bhagirathi Campaign' have urged Prof G D Agarwal, who has been observing a fast unto death for five days now, to shift to Delhi and apply pressure on the Centre to save the river after Chief Minister B C Khanduri's committment yesterday that construction of hydel projects in the state would be stopped if the Centre fulfilled its power needs.

They also advised him to call off the fast in view of his deteiorating health. Today, he was given a medical checkup and doctors reported a possible urine infection ''Prof Agarwal is still not wholly conviced by the state government's assurance that hydel projects will be called off provided the Centre fulfills its electricity needs. However, if the Centre gives its assurance within 24 hours that the projects would be called off, then Prof Agarwal will end his fast-unto-death'', Anil Gautam of the People's Science Institute told UNI.

He said two emissaries of the Chief Minister had tried to convince Dr Agarwal to call off his fast. They also assured him that the state government had decided to stop the construction of four hydel projects and open the gates of the Pala Maneri phase 1 and 2 projects. They also hinted that the construction of the Lohari Nath Project would be stopped provided the Central Government gave its sanction.

Prof Agarwal has 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. His movement is being supported by Magsaysay winners Rajendra Singh and M C Mehta, former General Secretary of the BJP Govindacharya besides various NGOs and local support.

There is speculation that the 76-year-old environmentalist will move from Uttarkashi on June 20. He will however, resume his fast.

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