Fast threat on Ganga bank to save river

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 1.06.08
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New Delhi, June 1: Guru Das Agrawal, a former dean of IIT Kanpur, has said he will begin a fast unto death this month on the banks of the Bhagirathi to save the tributary of the Ganga.

Agrawal, 76, who once taught environmental engineering at the IIT, said he will begin fasting from June 13, unless all development work on hydropower projects between Gangotri — the glacier that feeds the Ganges — and Uttarkashi is stopped.

“Our mother is being murdered... and you’re asking me why I’ve taken such a decision,” Agrawal said. “It’s for my faith,” he said.

Agrawal and a number of non-government organisations have been seeking a halt of work on the 600MW Loharinag Pala project and the 480MW Pala Maneri project along the stretch of the Bhagirathi.

“We’ll be left with a series of dry river beds, small lakes and tunnels carrying water for electricity,” said Agrawal. “Our mother Ganga is being destroyed.… They’re doing it for electricity.”

“It’s his decision. He sees this as a sacrifice he wants to make,” said Ayan Biswas, a member of People’s Science Institute, a non-government organisation in Dehra Dun campaigning for the river.

The projects envisage storing water in lakes and releasing it periodically through tunnels at locations of power stations where it will flow back into the channel. “The quantity and quality of water in the river will drop,” Biswas said. “We can already see this happening,” he said.