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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Govt promises to act, anti-river mining activist relaxes satyagraha

Radhika Nagrath  Haridwar, March 11, 2014
First Published: 15:24 IST(11/3/2014) | Last Updated: 15:30 IST(11/3/2014)

Haridwar: Swami Shivanand of the Matri Sadan Ashram here relaxed his self-imposed restraint on food after 24 days and drank coconut water on Sunday, after the government promised to look into his demands.

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During his “satyagraha”, Shivanand was sustaining only on lemon juice in protest against the “unbridled” mining in Ganga riverbed here and to urge the government to reopen the probe into the death of Swami Nigamanand.

Nigamandand died in June 2011 during his hunger strike to regulate mining in Ganga, amid allegation that he was poisoned. The CBI had taken over the investigation, but closed it in 2013. On Sunday, Shivanand announced that he would lay down his life, if the govt did not take any positive action on his demands. Following this, Haridwar district magistrate D Santhil Pandiyan and senior police officials met him at the ashram and informed him that the state government has given its permission to reopen the investigation into Nigamanand’s death.

“We have taken the state government’s consent for probing the death of Nigamanand by a special investigation team. The government order on it will be released very soon,” Pandiyan said.

The district administration officials have also raided river mining sites in Bishenpur Kundi and found that mining was done beyond the prescribed limit. The authorities have warned the mining-lease holders of punitive action, if they do not stop violating the norms. Several portions of Ganga in Uttarakhand are leased out to contractors for mining sand and gravel, with a limit on the depth up to which mining can be done. But a large number of contractors allegedly do not stick to the prescribed limit. The Matri Sadan Ashram has been fighting against it for years.

Meanwhile Shivanand said only the mode of satyagraha has changed, but it would continue till justice is served and the government order was released.


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