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PM appeals to environmentalist to end fast

delhi Updated: Mar 20, 2012 21:49 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday appealed to environmentalist GD Agarwal, who has been on a fast-unto-death since Jan 15 to save the Ganga river, to end his stir, saying the government is ready to discuss issues raised by him.


Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) V Narayanasamy and union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Tuesday visited the 80-year-old activist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where he was shifted from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh after his condition deteriorated on Monday.

Agarwal had stopped taking water from March 9.

"We were sent by the prime minister to appeal to him to end his fast. We had discussions on demands made by him and have accepted some of them. We are taking his message to prime minister and something positive will come by Wednesday morning," Jaiswal told reporters after the meeting.

Agarwal, 80, a former Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) professor, is unhappy over unsatisfactory and ineffective functioning of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), a central government constituted body for cleaning Ganga.

Besides, Agarwal is against ongoing construction of dams/barrages/tunnels on Ganga which would totally destroy the natural flow regimes and quality of the river water, total failure of regulatory agencies in controlling discharge of urban and industrial wastes into the Ganga and complete lack of sensitivity of the government on these issues.

Tarun Agarwal, GD Agarwal's nephew who is accompanying him, said the activist demanded that a meeting of the NRRBA be called immediately and the government has agreed to convene a meeting in April.

"We are also demanding that till the meeting is held, work on four under construction projects on the river should be temporarily stopped. But the government is agreeing to three projects. The ministers have assured us that they will convey our concerns to prime minister and will let us know by Wednesday," Tarun told IANS.

Agarwal has served as a secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, the country's premier anti-pollution body, and helped put together environmental legislation in India. This is his third fast-unto-death in last four years.