You can now sign a petition to the Hon’ble Prime minister of India in
support Prof G D Agarwal and the cause for which he has announced a fast
unto death against the damming of the River Bhagirathi above Uttarkashi
online by going to “Petition for Prof Agrawal’s movement”
Dr GD Agarwal, former Dean, IIT’K and former Member secretary, Central Pollution Control Board, and a very respected personality in the environmental engineering world in India and South Asia has decided to go on a fast unto death against the damming of the River Bhagirathi. Professor Agrawal is a preeminent engineer in this area and his thoughts should be given proper weight in this project for a dam on Ganga.
His concern is that due to inconsistent construction along the pathway and total apathy, the river – revered by many in India and abroad – is withering away. He has written a letter (reproduced below) which is eye opening. Some more information on his environmental concerns can be read from this blog tapasya-bhagirathi.
Here is a brief bio of Dr. G. D. Agrawal from his blog.
Meeting Dr. G. D. Agrawal in his spartan, two room cottage in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, you would never guess what an accomplished and distinguished scientist he is – first Member-Secretary of the Government of India’s Central Pollution Control Board, former Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at IIT Kanpur and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. The list goes on and on.
Yet this eminent professional sweeps his own floors, washes his own clothes and cooks his own meals. He retains only a few possessions and dresses in homespun khadi. At the age of 76, his main mode of transport within Chitrakoot is a bicycle and when he travels further afield, he goes by ordinary bus and second-class train. These are the deliberate choices of a devout Hindu whose deepest values are for simplicity and reverence for nature. Dr G.D. Agrawal is the doyen of environmental engineering professionals in India. Well past retirement, he continues to teach and inspire students as an Honorary Professor of Environmental Sciences at the Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya Vishwavidyalaya, in Chitrakoot (M.P.).
Dr Agrawal is a much sought-after EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) consultant and a Director of Envirotech Instruments (P) Limited, New Delhi – a company that he established with some of his former students from IIT-Kanpur. He is an engineer’s engineer, the person senior professionals turn to for solutions to difficult technical problems. At CPCB he was instrumental in shaping India’s pollution control regulatory structure. He has been a member of various official committees for policy-making and administrative mechanisms to improve India’s environmental quality.
Dr Agrawal is a legendary and inspiring teacher whose students remember him with awe, admiration and affection. In 2002, his former students at IIT-Kanpur conferred on him the Best Teacher Award. He has guided scores of Masters and Doctoral students who are now leaders in the field of environmental engineering and science. Among his more prominent students was the late Anil Agrawal, the trail-blazing founder of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi.
Dr Agrawal has been deeply committed to supporting rural development initiatives grounded in scientific methodology. Among others, he has helped mentor well-known development activists like Dunu Roy (IIT-Bombay,’67) of The Hazards Centre, New Delhi, Dr Ravi Chopra (IIT-Bombay,’68) of People’s Science Institute, Dehra Doon and Rajendra Singh, a Magsaysay awardee and founder of Tarun Bharat Sangh.Born in a farming family in Kandhla (Muzaffarnagar district, U.P.) in 1932, he did his schooling locally and graduated in Civil Engineering from the University of Roorkee (now IIT-Roorkee).
He started his career as a Design Engineer in the Irrigation Department, Uttar Pradesh and later obtained a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He has dozens of scientific publications to his credit. Dr Agrawal is both deeply religious and rigorously scientific.
His passionate devotion to the River Ganga comes from his strong Hindu faith; his conviction that we are staring at an unprecedented ecological and cultural catastrophe comes from his powerfully logical mind. As a citizen and a patriot, he has made it his life’s mission to recall India to its glorious traditional reverence for nature and to share that wisdom with the “developed” world. His sense of his duty allows him to do no less.
1. As you are aware, R. Bhagirathi Ganga has a very special place in Indian culture, thought and tradition. In the past few years, however, the continuity, quantity, quality and regime of flows is being disrupted for generation of hydro-electricity like all other rivers. Already in the reach downstream of Maneri, long stretches of Bhagirathi remain water less for long periods. In near future this may become the state of the entire river. As a serious student of environment sciences and as a faithful Hindu, this is hard for me to swallow. I strongly believe that at least Bhagirathi upstream of Uttarkashi should be spared of any works that disturb it’s natural flow-regime, ecology, purity or piety and, after brooding over it for several months, I have decided to oppose such works with all the might I have.
2. What might do I have to oppose such works in the face of the terrible lust for money, material comforts and particularly for electrical energy both on part of the governments and masses alike at the present state of our country? Well, I Pride to be from a culture that places the power of “Sacrifice and asceticism” (tapasya) above all other powers. And what is the use and meaning of “faith” if one is not willing to sacrifice for it! So after deep deliberation I have decided to “fast-unto-death” to oppose the destruction of this ecological marvel and the epitome of Hindu cultural “faith”.
3. In Chitrakoot, where Lord Rama performed his Tapasya, on his auspicious birth-day, Ram-Navami, April 14, 2008, I hereby resolve, that barring circumstances unforeseen, I shall go on a “fast-unto-death” from Ganga-Dashehra, June 13, 2008 to oppose the foul meddling going on with the stream of Bhagirathi upstream of Uttarkashi. May Lord Rama give me the strength of staying firm in my resolve. 4. In the name of your affection and concern for me, I pray to you not to do anything that may even distantly try to make me waiver from my resolve and if by any means, you find me your blessings.
5. After May 15, 2008, I plan to stay somewhere around Uttarkashi most of the time. You could find my location from either M.C. Mehta Environmental Foundation (Tel: 011-41756519) or from People’s Science Institute (Tel: 0135-2763649)
With affectionate good wishes, Your own cultural conscience