New Delhi, Oct 11: The Congress has lashed out at the Union Government over the death of environmental activist GD Agarwal, who passed away at AIIMS Rishikesh on Thursday following an indefinite fast demanding conservation of River Ganga.
Agarwal was on a fast-unto-death for the last 111 days. He sat on his fast on June 22 to protest against the government's alleged inaction in taking measures to make the Ganga free of pollution and free-flowing.
The Congress dubbed government's tall claims on Ganga cleaning as 'jumla'.
"Modi ji said river Ganga is calling him but it is even more polluted than it was in 2014. Rs 22000 Crore was allotted for cleaning it, not even one-fourth of it has been used. Is Namami Gange also a 'jumla'? Maybe GD Agarwal ji's sacrifice will provide vision to this blind government," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told ANI.
Agarwal, who took on the name Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand later in his life, began his fast on June 22, demanding steps to stop construction of hydroelectric projects along the river's tributaries and enact the Ganga Protection Management Act.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences and said Agarwal's passion for Ganga cleaning would be remembered always. "Saddened by the demise of GD Agarwal. His passion towards learning, education, saving the environment, particularly Ganga cleaning will always be remembered. My condolences," Modi tweeted.
Even Uma Bharti, who was the Water Resources minister earlier, expressed her grief over the death of Agarwal.
"I am shocked by his demise. I had feared that this would happen. I have informed Nitin Gadkari and others about his demise," she said.
Water Resources and Ganga River Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said two of Agarwal's demands were accepted.
"We have accepted almost all his demands (on cleaning of the Ganga). One demand was to ensure minimum environmental flow for Ganga river at various locations and we have come out with a notification," PTI quoted Gadkari as saying. The second demand, Gadkari said, was to bring a legislation to protect the Ganga. The legislation has been sent to Cabinet for approval.
Agarwal had been engaged in indefinite hunger strikes since 2008, calling for the Central government to protect the river Ganga. This is the second death of a fasting seer demanding undisrupted flow of Ganga. In 2011, Swami Nigamanand (36) of Matri Sadan died after fasting for more than 2 months, seeking a ban on illegal mining in Ganga river.