Sunday, June 22, 2008



Bhagirathi project
Activist faces wrath of locals
S.M.A. Kazmi
Tribune News Service

G.D. Agarwal
G.D. Agarwal

Dehra Dun, June 22
Noted environmentalist G.D. Agarwal, who has been on a fast unto death since June 13 on the banks of Bhagirathi river at Uttarkashi, faced the ire of local residents forcing him to shift to the safety of a guesthouse last evening.

Local leaders of Uttarkashi belonging to all political parties today came out openly against the fast undertaken by Agarwal and did not allowed anti-dam activists to hold their proposed meeting to be addressed by Rajinder Singh also known as ‘water man’.

In a protest against the fast by Agarwal, locals also took out his funeral procession. The locals held a meeting at the same venue where Rajinder Singh was to address his supporters from all over the country and condemned outsiders for stalling the state’s development in the name of environment and religion.

The Congress legislator from Yamunotri, Kedar Singh Rawat, who led the locals, alleged that the fast undertaken by Agarwal was against the development of Uttarakhand and would harm local people.

“It was all politically motivated. Agarwal should have initiated such a move at Kanpur to clean Ganga where he has taught all his life,” he charged.

The locals tore the tents where Agarwal was sitting, forcing the police and the district administration to shift him to the safety of a local guesthouse. Agarwal left for New Delhi today, where he proposed to continue his fast.

He had demanded that there should not be any hydro-electric projects on river Ganga between Gangotri, the origin of the river, and Uttarkashi, a distance of 150 km. His fast was supported by large number of environmentalists, social and political activists.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and saints belonging to the Sangh Parivar at its Marg Darshak meeting held at Hardwar on June 15 and 16 also extended support to the cause of Ganga and put pressure on the BJP state government to shelve the 480 MW Pala Maneri and 600 MW Bhairon Ghati power projects.

Agarwal had announced that he would continue his fast in New Delhi from June 23 to put pressure on the Union government to abandon Lohari Nagpala project being built by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), a central government undertaking.

Uttarakhand Congress had termed the agitation by Agarwal as a political gimmick by Sangh Parivar to rake up the issue of Ganga before 2009 Lok Sabha elections. “If the Sangh Parivar saints are sincere towards Ganga, they should as a first step stop throwing the sewerage of their ashrams at Rishikesh and Hardwar into Ganga,” Suryakant Dhasmana, a senior Congress leader said.