Ganga activist Swami Shivanand ends fast after Centre’s assurance to consider demands
The activists seek scrapping of hydro-electric power projects on river Ganga among other demands.
After agitating for exactly a month, Ganga activist and spiritual ideologue Swami Shivanand Saraswati ended his agitation after Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) director general Rajeev Ranjan Mishra assured to look into his demands raised for protection of river Ganga.
A letter of assurance by NMCG director general was handed out to Swami Shivanand Saraswati by the representatives of Ganga Vichar Manch, who arrived at Matri Sadan ashram premises on Wednesday late evening, following which the Ganga activist ended his fast.
Swami Shivanand Saraswati said he has been assured by the minister that his demands-- scrapping of hydro power electric projects being built on Ganga and its sub tributaries, prohibition on quarrying activities and shifting of stone crushers from Ganga river-bed by at least 5km, speedy enactment of Ganga Act and inclusion of pro-Ganga activists and seers in the draft panel committee—will be considered.
Ganga Vichar Manch founder Bharat Pathak said that Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Shekhawat was in constant touch with him about Swamiji’s health and had a telephonic dialogue which led to the breakthrough.
“After this assurance, we hope that soon concrete steps will be taken on demands made by Swami Shivanand Saraswati and another ashramites, who have been, off late, staging numerous agitations for the cause of protecting holy Ganga River and conservation of its ecology,” said Ganga Vichar Manch founder Bharat Pathak.
Magsaysay awardee Rajendra Singh said it is high time that the government and the concerned authorities acted promptly and took suggestions from Matri Sadan ashramites as they have been the flag-bearers of agitations on the issue.
Notably, Swami Shivanand had started his agitation on August 3, relying only on intake of five glasses of water and had curtailed it to four glasses since last Sunday.
Prior to starting the agitation, he had pointed out that his ‘tapasya’ (fight for Ganga) is a continuation of the sincere efforts carried out by late Swami Nigmanand, Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand, an IIT professor, and fellow ashramites Sadhvi Padmavati and Brahamchari Atmabodhanand, who all had staged more than hundred days long fast unto death agitations at Matri Sadan ashram in a span of past two years.
Owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, Swami Shivanand had postponed his agitation on March 30 after staging it for twenty days.