19:32 GMT +321 October 2018
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    Ganga River, Varanasi, India

    Indian Environmental Activist Dies Fasting

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    Gyan Swaroop’s aide Swami Dayanand told the media that the environmental activist suffered a heart attack at around noon on Wednesday. He was fighting for the cause of "Clean Ganga" – a mission for rejuvenating the river revered by Hindus, who believe that one who bathes in the river washes away all his sins.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): One of India's most popular environmental activists, G.D. Agarwal aka Gyan Swaroop, who had been on an indefinite hunger strike demanding the cleaning of the Holy River Ganga, has died. Swaroop, who had been demanding a complete ban on hydropower projects on the river, breathed his last in Haridwar on Wednesday, his close aides informed the media. 

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    "G.D. Agarwal was on a fasting where he was intaking only water with honey. On Monday, he gave up even water as he felt that his urge to save Ganga with the government was falling on deaf ears. He only was urging the government to act proactively to save the Holy river of Ganga. We have lost an activist and a light to the struggle but the battle for the environment in India will further rejuvenate with his sacrifice," Mini Mathur, a volunteer working for "Clean Ganga," told Sputnik. 

    The 87-year-old activist, who had been fasting for the last 111 days, was formerly a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Technology.

    Ganga has its origins in the Himalayan ranges and it gets polluted as it travels downwards in the plains of North India with multiple industrialized cities on the banks of the River in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, making it one of the most polluted rivers in the world.  

    The river Ganga is considered holy by Hindus and the government of India has many schemes and a dedicated ministry to take care of the river.  

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    "If the draft is enacted by parliament, most of the problems of Gangaji would be resolved for a long time. The present government can use their brut majority and whip it. I will break my fast the day it is passed. This is my last responsibility. If they are able to get it passed before the draft passed in the next session, then good. If not… many people die unhappy. It's time for the future generation to take responsibility for the holy river," Swaroop told the New Indian Express in an interview days before his death.

    Swaroop had written a number of letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several ministers who have been in charge of rejuvenating the Ganga.

    A recent performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India found several deficiencies and shortfalls in the implementation of the "Clean Ganga" mission by the Indian government.

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    Tags:
    Hindus, environmental activism, industrialization, death, pollution, India
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