Septugenarian’s fast forces Uttaranchal to scrap 2 dams

June 20th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Dehradun, June 20 (IANS) Yielding to pressure from septugenarian environmentalist G.D. Agarwal, who is on hunger strike against the damming of the Ganga, the Uttaranchal government said it would not construct two of the six dams on the river proposed between Gangotri and Uttarkashi. Uttaranchal Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri’s announcement Thursday evening came in the wake of pressure mounted by G.D. Agarwal, whose indefinite fast completed a week Friday.

A spokesperson for the fasting environmentalist, however, told IANS that Agarwal would continue his fast till the state government released all water collected at the Tehri Dam and let the Ganga flow freely.

Agarwal, along with several scientists, environmentalists and activists, began his hunger strike June 13 against the government’s plans to construct six dams on a 100-km stretch between Gangotri, the source of the river, and Uttarkashi.

The fast was the 76-year-old environmentalist’s last-ditch effort to prevent the damming of the Ganga after his persistent opposition to any concrete structures over the river failed. He also vowed silence till his fast lasted.

“He would break his fast and silence only after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself comes here with a written promise that no new dams would be built on the river,” water conservationist Rajendra Singh, accompanying Agarwal in his protest, said when the protest started.

Agarwal, a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, started his sit-in at Manikanika Ghat in Uttaranchal’s Uttarkashi district.

He was a member-secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, the country’s premier anti-pollution agency, and it was he who helped put together environmental legislation in India.

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