Environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday held the Uttarakhand government responsible for the death of Swami Nigamanand, who died on Tuesday after a long process of fasting and forced feeding.
Swami Nigamanand was on hunger strike against allegedly illegal quarrying in the river Ganga.
"In view of the fact that the state government has demonstrated continued reluctance to take action against illegal mining, I think we will have no option but to invoke the Environment Protection Act and take action on our own,” the minister said.
Also, the Uttarakhand unit of the Congress accused the state government, run by the BJP, of giving differential treatment to yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Swami Nigamanand. The party said that it would hold statewide protests on this.
Uttarakhand Congress vice-president and former minister Heera Singh Bisht said, "The state government was busy offering medical help to Baba Ramdev in the same hospital (where the swami stayed) but it never bothered to take notice of Nigamanand."
The swami, 36, was on a fast from February 19 to April 30, when he was admitted to hospital. Thereafter, forced feeding kept him alive till June 13.
However, the district took a different posture.
District magistrate R Meenakshi Sundaram said Matri Sadan, a hermitage of swamis including Nigamanand, was fighting an Uttarakhand high court order to stay the government decree on quarrying in the Kumbh area. By fasting, Matri Sadan had allegedly gone against the law, she said.
(With inputs from New Delhi)