Former IIT professor ends fast, wins a battle for Ganga (with image)

February 20th, 2009 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) A 77-year-old former Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) professor ended his fast-unto-death here Friday after the central government accepted his demand to suspend work on a hydroelectric project on the Ganga river in Uttarakhand.
G.D. Agrawal, a former dean of IIT-Kanpur, was sitting on a fast for over a month - it began Jan 14 - near Birla temple in the capital, protesting the construction of the Lohari Nag Pala hydro-electric project in the Uttarkashi region.

According to environmentalists, the project is likely to dry up the 125 km stretch of the Ganga between Gangotri and Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.

Prithviraj Chauhan, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Friday sent a letter to Agrawal apprising him about the government’s decision to suspend work on Lohari Nag Pala project.

“For all of us, the Ganga is a symbol of India’s faith and culture. And the construction work on the Lohari Nag Pala was destroying the natural flow of the holy river to a great extent. I am thankful to the central government for taking this into cognisance and stopping the project immediately,” said Agrawal.

Former IIT students have also formed a group ‘IITians for Holy Ganga’ to highlight the damage being caused to the holy river and the ecology of the Ganga basin due to indiscriminate developmental work in the area.

“I am sure this would restore the lost glory of the Ganga and its pristine form. However, the task is not complete yet and I shall continue my efforts till everybody realises the significance of the sacred river. My dream is that every visitor should be able to see the Ganga from Gangotri to Uttarkashi in its original form,” said Agrawal.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday approved the notification for setting up the Ganga River Basin Authority for comprehensive management of the basin.

“It is the victory of the people who have pledged support to the cause. We are delighted that Agrawal’s selfless efforts have been acknowledged and the government has stopped the work on Lohari Nag Pala,” said K.K Dhar, president of the ‘IITians for Holy Ganga’ forum.

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