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G.D Agarwal

G.D Agarwal
  • G. D. Agrawal also known as Sant Swami Sanand, Sant Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand (20 July 1932 – 11 October 2018) was an Indian environmental engineer and religious figure, professor, monk, environmentalist activist.
  • He was the Patron of an NGO named the Sri Ganga Mahasabha founded by Madan Mohan Malviya in 1905.
  • He is notable for a number of fasts undertaken to stop many projects on River Ganga. His fast in 2009 led to the damming of the Bhagirathi River being stopped.
  • Agrawal died on 11 October 2018, after being on an indefinite fast since 22 June 2018, demanding the government act on its promises to clean and save river Ganga
  • National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) is a financing, planning, implementing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganges River, functioning under the water resource ministry of India.
  • In July 2014, the NGRBA has been transferred from the Ministry of Environment and Forest to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation.
  • Union government in a notification issued on 20 September 2016 has taken decision under River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order 2016 for a new body named “National Council for River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management)” NCRG to replace existing NGRBA.
  • It was established by the Central Government of India, on 20 February 2009 under Section 3(3) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which also declared Ganges as the “National River” of India.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council which was set up in October 2016 under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities order 2016.
  • The aim is to clean the Ganga and its tributaries in a comprehensive manner. Nitin Gadkari is the present Minister for Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
  • It is an integrated conservation mission, was approved as the flagship programme by the government in June 2016 with a budget outlay of 20,000 crore to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of the Ganga. Under the project, 8 states are covered.
  • Dept of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation proposes to make 1,674 gram panchayats by the Ganga open defecationfree by 2022, at a cost of Rs 1,700 cr (central share).An estimated Rs 2,958 Crores have been spent till July 2016 in various efforts in cleaning up of the river.
  • Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi launched Phase I in 1985, covering 25 Ganga towns in three states; Rs 862.59 crore were spent. Phase II covered 59 towns in five states; Rs 505.31 cr were spent. Rivers such as Yamuna, Gomti, Damodar, Mahananda had separate action plans.
  • Born to a farming family in Kandhla, Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh in 1932, he studied in local primary and secondary schools and graduated in civil engineering from the University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee).
  • While he was the member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board during 1979-80, he was also a visiting professor for environmental engineering at the University of Roorkee.
  • He began his professional career as a design engineer in the Uttar Pradesh state Irrigation Department, and later obtained a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.
  • He has authored many scientific publications. Agrawal was raised to be deeply religious and educated to be rigorously scientific. In July 2011, he became a Hindu sannyasi and now he is known by his new name Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand
  • He was the first member-secretary of the Government of India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) . He was formerly head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at IIT Kanpur.
  • At CPCB he was influential in shaping India’s pollution control regulatory structure. He has been a member of various government committees shaping policy-making and administrative mechanisms to improve India’s environmental quality.
  • Agrawal’s students remember him with admiration, awe and affection. In 2002, his former students at IIT-Kanpur conferred on him the Best Teacher Award.
  • Agrawal lived a Gandhian lifestyle in his spartan, two-room cottage in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh. He swept his own floors, washed his own clothes and cooked his own meals. He retained only a few possessions and dresses in handspun handwoven khadi cloth.
  • The scientist-turned-sanyasi was very unhappy with the state of affairs at the National Ganga River Basin Authority(NGRBA), an empowered planning, financing monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganges under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • According to him, the Mission Clean Ganga-2020 would meet the same fate as the Ganga Action Plan (launched in 1986) that failed to achieve the goal despite investment of crores of rupees
  • He wondered and expressed his fear that the huge funds received from the World Bank would be exhausted again without any fruitful result. He, however, also held people equally responsible for the plight of the Ganges, who refused to stop dumping puja material and garbage into the national river.
  • Agrawal has always campaigned actively for rivers. He had sat on a fast-unto-death to ensure that river Bhagirathi was allowed to flow in its natural form between Gangotri and Uttarkashi.
  • He called off his first fast on the 18th day on 30 June 2008 after the Uttarakhand government promised in writing to suspend work on the Bhairon Ghati (380 MW) and Pala-Maneri (480 MW) hydropower projects (HPPs) on the Bhagirathi river.
  • In February 2018, Agrawal sent an open letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to stop environmentally unfriendly projects and to ensure what he calls ‘aviral’ flow of the river in the upper stretches of river Ganga. Agrawal’s letter to PM made some specific demands. These were
  • Stop ALL the construction activities on the (a) VishnugadPipalkoti project in Alaknanda river and (b) Phata-Byung and Singoli-Bhatwari on Mandakini river.
  • Immediate action to pass the Ganga protection act formulated by the committee headed Justice (Retired) Giridhar Malviy
  • Formation of a ‘Ganga Bhaktha Parishad’.
  • Agrawal had mentioned in the letter that if no action is taken by Ganga Dussehra (22nd June 2018), he will go on fast-onto-death.
  • The government responded to Agrawal’s fast via Nitin Gadkari (Union Minister for Water_Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation) but it failed to resolve the impasse. Agrawal alleges that government is focussing on cleaning river Ganga whereas his holistic vision ensures `aviral-nirmal’ Ganga.
  • On 13th August (53rd day of the fast), Agrawal has been admitted to AIIMS again.
  • On 9th October (109th day of the fast), he stopped drinking water and has refused to take medicine, water or any fluid/juice orally and on 11 october he passed away.