May 3, 2008

Hunger Strike by Prof GD Agarwal

Dear friends,
I am writing this letter not only to inform you of a monumental decision taken by a person I regard highly but also to let you know about him and the context.

Professor G.D. Agarwal, now about 80 but in robust health, has been residing in Chitrakoot for almost 20-25 years now. He has taught Environmental Science in IIT Kanpur for a number of years. He also served as a Dean at IIT Kanpur for a number of years. After that, at the request of Nanaji Deshmukk he served as a faculty member of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural University set up by Nanaji in Chitrakoot. He worked here without accepting any pay in an honorary capacity as a service to the country. He is one of those legendary teachers whom their students remember even after years. He has inspired many most prominent among them was late Anil Agarwal who founded Centre of Science and Environment, which is now being looked after by Sunita Narain. He was founder member secretary of the Pollution Control Board. But above all Prof. Agarwal is man of deep understanding and high integrity inspiring hundreds of his students the world over.

Prof. Agarwal has a deep understanding of Indian tradition and environment and thus has a very different perceptions about most environment related issues, more rooted and appropriate for our country and the world as well. He has been deeply disturbed, like many others, about the manner in which Ganga has been treated by successive governments over the years. We have been tampering with the Ganga, in particular the Bhagirathi (tehri dam is only one among many glaring examples) resulting it in only running like a trickle many times (because of the damning of the flow). At times there has been no water even in haridwar. This is a severe blow on the faith of a large majority of people in this country. And faith is a big thing. It gives tremendous strength to cope with adversities in life. It unites people. Dr. agarwal is much pained by what we are doing to the Ganga and the implications it may have on our people and our country. Having done the damage that we have done by building the Tehri dam he feels now at least the Ganga between Gomukh and Uttarkashi should be left alone, but we are tampering with it even in those areas. He has also been very disturbed about the river linking scheme of our government(s).

Unfortunately on such issues of so called ‘development’ all governments, all political parties (Congress, Samajwadi, BJP, the Communists) have similar views and hence the schemes go on undisturbed, with change in governments. It is almost a global phenomena – the way our elite, the powerful perceive ‘development’.

Under the circumstances he has decided to go on fast unto death from June 17th (Ganga Dusserra). He will find a suitable place in uttarkashi and start his fast from that place. He has written a letter to a few people close to him informing them of this decision and the reasons thereof asking them to pray for him to help him in his resolve. Dr. Agarwal is not a publicity seeker. He has not reached his decision in a hurry but after deliberating and contemplating about it for a long time.

I am writing this letter only to inform you and to request you to, if possible, try and talk about the reasons behind the decision of Prof. Agarwal with people you know. Faith has become a dirty word but is it so? Ganga is not only an environmental issue but much bigger than that. I know for a fact that during the month of Shravan (august- Sept) when people come top Haridwar to pick up Ganga water and carry it to different shiv temples – these people have amongst them not only upper caste Hindus but the so called scheduled clastes as well as a sprinkling of Muslims amonst the devotees! It is a strange country – this India _ we do not seem to know it fully as most of us have become alientated (thanks to the kind of education we have received).
Pawan Kumar Gupta
(SIDH)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

God bless you Mr. Pawan. Wonderful write up.
Alok

Anonymous said...

Dear Pawan ji,
I am sending you some more facts about Dr. Agrawal.

Prof. G.D. Agarwal is currently Honorary Professor at Gandhi Gramodya Vishwa Vidhalaya (GGVV), Chitrakoot (MP), a deemed university. He graduated in Civil Engineering from University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) and obtained PhD degree from University Berkeley, USA. Dr. Agarwal was Professor at IIT Kanpur until late 1970s and had served as the Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Kanpur. He has published several papers and guided many M.Tech. and Ph.D students who are now the leaders in the field of environmental engineering.He has continued a close association with the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Kanpur and particularly with the Environmental Engineering group. At the request of Nanaji Deshmukk he served as a faculty member of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural University set up by Nanaji in Chitrakoot. He has been working at Chitrakoot without accepting any pay in an honorary capacity as a service to the country. He is one of those legendary teachers whom their students remember even after years. He was founder member secretary of the Pollution Control Board. But above all Prof. Agarwal is man of deep understanding and high integrity inspiring hundreds of his students the world over.
Dr Agarwal served as the Member Secretary of Central Pollution Control Board during 1981-83 and contributed significantly to the regulatory pollution control infrastructure in the country. He served as a Director of a leading environmental consulting and monitoring equipment company, M/s Envirotech Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, since 1983 for several years.
In addition, he has been a member of several committees of Govt. of India for policy making and regulatory interventions for environmental quality improvements. He has also been associated with the leading NGO, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi. Dr Agarwal has now fully devoted himself to save River Bhagirathi.

At Chitrakoot, on 18th-19th May 2004, along with other leaders of the Rashtriya Jal Yatra Campaign he passed the Chitrakoot Water Declaration stating that water is common, not private, property. As such, it is the local people living near water sources – ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, etc., - who have the right to use and conserve water, not companies or even the government India’s national water policy needs to reflect this.

Professor G.D. Agarwal, now about 76 but in robust health, has been residing in Chitrakoot for almost 20 -25 years now. Prof. Agarwal has a deep understanding of Indian tradition and environment and thus has a very different perceptions about most environment related issues, more rooted and appropriate for our country and the world as well. He has been deeply disturbed, like many others, about the manner in which Ganga has been treated by successive governments over the years. We have been tampering with the Ganga, in particular the Bhagirathi (tehri dam is only one among many glaring examples) resulting it in only running like a trickle many times (because of the damning of the flow). At times there has been no water even in haridwar. This is a severe blow on the faith of a large majority of people in this country. And faith is a big thing. It gives tremendous strength to cope with adversities in life. It unites people. Dr. Agarwal is much pained by what we are doing to the Ganga and the implications it may have on our people and our country. Having done the damage that we have done by building the Tehri dam he feels now at least the Ganga between Gomukh and Uttarkashi should be left alone, but we are tampering with it even in those areas. He has also been very disturbed about the river linking scheme of our government(s).

Unfortunately on such issues of so called ‘development’ all governments, all political parties (Congress, Samajwadi, BJP, the Communists) have similar views and hence the schemes go on undisturbed, with change in governments. It is almost a global phenomena – the way our elite, the powerful perceive ‘development’.
Under the circumstances he has decided to go on fast unto death from June 17th (Ganga Dusserra). He will find a suitable place in Uttarkashi and start his fast from that place. He has written a letter to a few people close to him informing them of this decision and the reasons thereof asking them to pray for him to help him in his resolve. Dr. Agarwal is not a publicity seeker. He has not reached his decision in a hurry but after deliberating and contemplating about it for a long time.
He is not campaigning against hydropower generation. He believes that there are better ways to generate hydropower that less threatens people's lives and livelihoods. The state government needs to carefully study the issues and prepare a comprehensive policy with the genuine involvement of the communities that are likely to be affected.

The Ganga holds a unique place in Indian consciousness. Like lacs of other Hindus he also regarded the Ganga as a celestial river originating in the heavens, which he worships as the mother who washes away all the sins of mankind. On the 3-4 November 2007, Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF), an NGO, commemorated their 25 Anniversary on the banks of Ganga, at Tulsighat, Varanasi. On this occasion he said that the whole world regard Ganga as a mother;Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in Varanasi has failed due to the Uttar Pradesh government adopting very ordinary technology to address the wastewater issue. Yet, he believes that the pollution in Ganga can be prevented by using interceptor sewers and AIWPS technology. He appealed to people to come forward to clean Ganga in the ancient city of Varanasi.

In 1997, at the request of the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN), the Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF) submitted a Project Feasibility Report (PFR) for sewage interception, dispersion and treatment for the city of Varanasi under Ganga Action Plan Phase II. In 1999 the UP Jal Nigam submitted a different PFR for Varanasi under GAP Phase II. Upon receiving this the Varanasi Nagar Nigam requested experts of the stature of Prof. G.D. Agrawal to do a techno-economic appraisal of the two PFRs.Prof. Agrawal concluded that the VNN-SMF scheme shall be more favourable for Varanasi city due to:
1. Not being dependent on pumping, the interception shall have much less disruptions and shall be more reliable.
2. Treated effluent shall be much lower in coliforms and much better in all other respects.
3. Land costs and acquisition problems shall be much less or absent.
4. Much lower capital costs. (Rs.150 Crores for VNN SMF versus Rs.300 Crores for UPJN - 1997 costs)
5. Pumping energy consumption lower by 6 million units per year.
6. Operation and Maintenance costs lower by Rs.2.50 Crores per year.
As a consequence of this report the Varanasi Nagar Nigam reiterated its desire for implementation of the VNN-SMF scheme under GAP Phase II.

WHY THIS EXTREME STEP

Now Ganga rivers’ very existence is threatened as the state government, driven by an untrammeled lust for revenue and money-making, has given permission for the construction of a cascade of hydropower projects in its uppermost reaches. So far 220 big, medium and small dams have been decided upon throughout the state.

The Loharinag Pala and Tapovan-Vishnugad hydroelectric power projects both are run of the river projects that the public sector National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is constructing in Uttarkashi district of Uttaranchal.The Loharinag Pala is a 600 MW project and it's barrage site is at Loharinag village on the Bhagirathi river. The Tapovan-Vishnugad is a 520MW project and the dam is across the Dhauliganga river in Joshimath town. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) granted both these projects clearance on 8th February 2005.

The Ganga and most of its glacial tributaries will be converted into a series of ponds (reservoirs behind the dams) connected by pipes (tunnels). Most of the upper reaches of the Ganga river system will become dry as the water is pushed into tunnels.

It is a question that has been coming up time and again: Is the Ministry of Environment and Forests merely acting as a rubber stamp for all that the government does, or does it at have a capacity, in the interest of protecting the environment as per the mandate given to it, to say no to any proposal put forward to it in the name of development?

The original Ganga, with its unique bacteria killing viral bacteriophage, now does not exist below Uttarkashi :

Below Uttarkashi at the Maneri Phase I project site only 2 - 3 cusecs of water can be seen as leaking from the dam and from another release point, while the rest of the Bhagirathi is being diverted in a long tunnel to the power project at Dharasu nearly 40 kms downstream, leaving virtually no flow in the river. On the following day, it was confirmed that waters from the Maneri Phase II were also similarly diverted in a tunnel also to Dharasu. The stream was revived only by the flow of the Assi Ganga, which debouched into the Bhagirathi bed, some 4 kms upstream of Uttarkashi.

Anonymous said...

We are glad to such great initiatives by great Indians! God bless all of you, your great deeds. People will always remember you as people who sacrified the best of their life fighting for causes. Thank you.
Mohan Raj, Dadar, Mumbai.

Anonymous said...

what we can do to support this noble cause

Alok said...

Dear All: May 14, 2008
I am writing to inform you of a radical decision taken by Dr G.D. Agrawal, India's pre-eminent environmental quality scientist and a legendary Professor (and HoD) of Civil & Environmental Engineering at IIT-Kanpur .
Pained by the unrelenting destruction of the Ganga river, especially by a series of dams in its upper reaches, Dr Agrawal has decided to go on a fast-unto-death to oppose its continuing desecration. His conviction that we are staring at an unprecedented ecological and cultural catastrophe comes from his powerfully logical mind. (See also his critique of the proposed dams on the Bhagirathi river).In a letter written to a few people close to him, Dr Agrawal explained his decision saying, "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 are being disrupted for generation of hydro-electricity like all other rivers. Already in the reach downstream of Maneri, long stretches of Bhagirathi remain waterless for long periods. In the 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 its 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……. 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."
Several scientists and activists whom he has mentored over the years have come together to try and mobilize public opinion to pressurize the governments of India and Uttarakhand to abandon the construction of all dams on the Bhagirathi river, upstream of Uttarkashi. We seek your support in this endeavour. Some ways in which you can do this are listed below:
(1) Help disseminate news of GD's fast and the underlying issues, as widely as possible. (I will be grateful if you can copy the mailing list to us.)
(2) Write articles for newspapers, including your local and vernacular media. (Please send us copies of the published material.)
(3) Write letters to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson UPA, the Union Ministers for Water Resources (Prof. Saifuddin Soz) and Power (Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde) and the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand urging them to abandon the construction of all the new dams on the Bhagirathi upstream of Uttarkashi. Please release the letters to the media and send us copies.
(4) Mobilize local support groups – common people, women, students, scientists and other professionals, Ganga devotees, nature clubs, etc. Please let us know if you are interested in being part of a coordination group in your state.
(5) Mobilize political support for the demand raised by Dr Agrawal.
(6) Organize signature campaigns/online petitions.
(7) Demonstrate your support for the issues that Dr Agrawal is raising. Mobilize groups of people to sit on one-day fasts and ensure that the media covers them. (Please send us news reports.)
(8) Take delegations to meet high officials and decision-makers to lobby for the issues raised by Dr Agrawal and his basic demand.
These are just some initial ideas that have come to our minds. Please let us know what else needs to be done and can be done. We welcome your ideas. Also keep us informed of what all you are doing. If you need more information from us, please do not hesitate to contact us. I am attaching embedded Hindi fonts with this mail, as one of attachments is in Hindi. We may be able to provide you photographs of G.D. Agrawal and the dry stretches of the Ganga, sample leaflets/letters/petitions/posters in Hindi and English in a week or ten days.
Personally, I think that we have an uphill task before us, given the prevailing apathy and the obdurate governments at the centre and the state. Hence your active support is essential. I look forward to a positive and quick response from you.
Sincerely

Ravi Chopra
Peoples' Science Institute
252/I Vasant Vihar, Dehra Doon 248006
Uttarakhand. INDIA

Alok said...

Anyone who wish to participate and put efforts, can contact me on 09319279551 and anappeal@rediffmail.com

Alok Gupta
Lecturer
MIET, Meerut

Anonymous said...

Great cause, great work. Things will change.

G.D. Agarwal Fast Blog said...

Please sing the on-line petition to the P.M. posted here - http://www.petitiononline.com/tpsy2008/petition.html

Pavitra Singh said...

In single-minded pursuit of its agenda for economic advancement, for which cheap energy availability is a major requirement, the Government of India has been proposing and/or promoting a number of hydro-electric projects on various rivers of the Ganga valley including the Bhagirathi to tap their enormous hydro-power potential. In its desire to make India stand somewhere in the long queue of so-called “developed” nations, the GoI is willing to destroy the traditional Indian ethos of worshiping nature and living in harmony with it, slowly destroying any and all links that connect the vast Indian masses to this tradition, heritage and cultural ethos and at the same time erasing what is special, even unique, in the land that is India.
Besides the controversial Tehri Dam, which was ultimately cleared by the Apex Court in 2002 and was commissioned in 2005, a medium “run-of-the-river” hydro-electric scheme at Maneri-Bhali on R.Bhagirathi had become operational as early as the late seventies. Another five projects on various tributaries before they join at Devprayag, to be reverently called GANGAji are currently under construction, including the Pala-Maneri and Maneri-Bhali stage II on Bhagirathi. About twenty more medium schemes are at different stages of planning in the reaches upstream of Devprayag, Two of these are on the Bhagirathi proper. Loharinag-Pala, one of these, recently got a clearance from MoEF, GoI.
It is highly unfortunate that both the environmentalists who never tire of talking of the fragility and uniqueness of the Himalayan environment, as also the devout Hindus, who swear in the name of Gangaji, remained sleeping when Maneri-Bhali was built, and also the agitation against Tehri Dam proved to be miserably inadequate, ill-prepared and primarily concentrating
on the vested self-interests of a few. In the absence of support both from competent scientific/environmental professionals and the devout Hindu cultural ethos, even a towering leader like Sunder Lal Bahugunaji could not lead the Tehri movement to success. With his secular and socialist inclinations, Bahugunaji did not even think of taking help of the 1916 agreement between the Indian Governemnt (then under British control) and the Hindu community which, as a legal instrument, would have been able to stop Tehri Dam or to make substantial changes in its designs and plans. His scientific base and support could also not be called strong.
From the above, it is obvious that it is not enough to say we do not support these projects - it is necessary to be specific as to which of these projects and on what grounds. The grounds can be either (i) scientific and environmental or (ii) related to faith, culture and sentiments. If the grounds are scientific/environmental/legal, they have to be strong enough and be presented by competent professionals, to be able to defeat the project promoters. Such grounds shall also need to keep economic aspects in mind and could be rectified by appropriate design or site changes. If the grounds are related to faith, culture, tradition and sentiments, one has to be bold to strongly and openly state so. Of course one has to be “totally convinced” of his faith, culture and sentiments and be able to ensure that these do not involve any sort of primary violence (“Hinsa”) from his side, but a human who cannot stand (or fall) to defend his faith is no human, as a nation which cannot stand to defend it’s sovereignty is no nation.
Below are discussed the grounds related to (A) our Faith, Culture, Tradition and Sentiments and (B) those related to Environmental/Scientific considerations, due to which we oppose the proposed hydro-electric projects on Bhagirathi, particularly the Pala-Maneri and the Loharinag-Pala projects for which MoEF has granted environmental clearances and construction work has started. We may repeat again and again that the considerations of Group A (those related to faith, culture and sentiments) are the PRIMARY ones, those of Group B (scientific/environmental) only meaningless auxilliaries from our point of view.
A. Faith/Culture/Sentiments vis-à-vis Projects on the Bhagirathi
A-1: Gangaji, a very special river demanding special treatment
In Indian cultural ethos (essentially Hindu ethos since the Islamic/Parsi/Jewish/Christian ethos is in no way linked to the land and geography of India)
Gangaji is no ordinary river it is “Sur-Sari”, divine flow of energy, a living entity; “mother”, revered and worshipped by tens of crores of Hindus – all the Indians who accept and value their links with this land - over not just a few centuries but several millennia.
If crores of Hindus from all parts of the country, as far as Kerala, Tamilnadu, Saurashtra, Kashmir etc. flock to Hardwar, Allahabad, Varanasi, Gangasagar and other spots along Gangaji, it is not because Gangaji has built or irrigated their farmlands, or supplies their drinking water or electricity or even helps to drain away their wastes to the sea. NO! Gangaji is no ordinary river in our ethos to be related to these lowly tasks that other rivers and streams also perform. Gangaji is not Nile or Euphrates, or Thames, or Danube or Mississippi, or even Indus (Sindhu). No one ever craves to visit any of these rivers, their origin, their confluence or any spots on them, as crores of Hindus crave for Gangaji. They want to be near Gangaji even in death; at least have a few drops of Ganga Jal.
The water flowing in Gangaji is not ordinary water to a Hindu, it is “GANGAJAL”, not meant for mere drinking, domestic use, irrigation or pisciculture and hence not needing to meet any criteria or standards set by WHO or MoEF. It is a matter of the life and death of Hindu faith, culture, tradition, sentiments and ethos. One has to think of Kumbh Mela, the Kanwad tradition, the “Chhath” of Bihar and all the other cultural rituals on the banks of Gangaji.
The main problem of scientists, engineers, planners, economists the so-called “educated”, and of recent Indian Governments is that they wish to first treat and then make Gangaji like any other river. They want to apply all the common criteria, the same standards, the same objectives, the same EIA guidelines the same economic planning to Gangaji as to some nondescript stream. They consider Gangajal as any other surface water, inferior to treated tap-water or “Bisleri/Aqua Fina”. They have never considered it necessary to explore and understand the basis of the Indian faith and reverence for Gangaji. Their real aim and intention is to insult denounce and destroy all that is unique to India’s land, it’s culture and it’s people, to be counted as second rate cousins of the other nationalities of the world, far behind those of European origin. I would wish to be forth-right; to me the effort to equate or consider Gangaji to any other river is an attack by the modern scientific/economic culture on the traditional Indian culture, faith and ethos and has to be fought at that level. Let us be clear and straight forward:

􀂃Gangaji is our cultural mother.

􀂃Gangaji is from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar.

􀂃We shall not let Gangaji be treated like an ordinary river and harnessed for irrigation city water-supply, hydro-electricity, pisciculture etc. or be fouled with waste discharges.

􀂃A special code for reverently using Gangaji has to be evolved.

A 2. The unique, superior and very special quality of GANGAJAL
A significant and very important aspect of Hindu culture, faith and tradition is the belief, rather conviction, in the superior and unique quality of GANGAJAL. In a highly intelligent and intellectual group, that we believe our Rishis belonged to, this had to be based on long-time experience and observation and not be mere blind faith. Besides the high and unique spiritual and mental impacts of contacts with GANGAJAL, (which can only be felt or experienced, and not be measured in the laboratory), it is believed to have bactericidal, disease-curing, health-promoting, non-putrefying and purifying properties at levels much beyond any other waters known. While all educated and believing in modern science, would like to discard these as mere rubbish and blind-faith, they have no data or proof from a comprehensive scientific study, planned to satisfy their own criteria for such a study, to establish this. It is essentially the responsibility of the modern scientific community to conclusively prove it, if they think the centuries old faith in the unique quality of GANGAJAL to be baseless and mere blind faith. And it may be stressed that to-date there has been no such comprehensive, properly planned and conducted study. On the other hand there are a number of stray observations and short studies by scientists, all of which support the Hindu faith in the unique non-putrefying, bactericidal and health promoting properties of GANGAJAL. Some of these are listed below:

􀂃Bactericidal properties of Gangajal at Varanasi and other locations observed by several Indian as also European biologists, argued to be due to presence of bacterio-phages.

􀂃E.Coli-cidal properties of Gangajal at Kanpur observed by Shri Kashi Prasad in his IIT Kanpur M.Tech Thesis. This property was unchanged by autoclaving and hence could not be due to phages or any other living agent but was removed on filtration or ultra-centrifuge and hence seemed to be caused by ultra-fine silt or micro-nucleii present in the Jal.
􀂃Unbelievably high BOD exertion (or removal) rate constants (several times of the values in other waters) in GANGAJI observed by Dr D.S. Bhargava in his IIT-Kanpur PhD. Thesis argued to the due to the presence of large amounts of “exo-cellular polymers” excreted by certain bacteria in endogenous phases (but could also be coming from extracts of some specific vegetal species present in Himalayan uplands).

􀂃Bactericidal and purifying properties of Gangajal observed by NEERI in their study on “Self-Cleaning” properties of Gangaji in relation to Tehri Dam, found to be related to a unique mix of heavy and radioactive metals present in Gangajal. The study was toned down to keep within interests of the client and never brought into highlight in keeping with official objectives.

􀂃Even the EIA study conducted by WAPCOS for the Loharinag-Pala Hydro-eclectic Project found fecal coliforms to be totally absent at all the six locations in Bhagirathi in both the Pre-monsoon (low flow) and Post-monsoon (high flow) samplings (see Tables 3.4a and 3.4b of the EIA report). How would one explain this total absence of fecal coliforms at all the six stations and in both samplings with so many pilgrims visiting, bathing and fouling Gangaji at Gangotri and the significant township and army establishment at Harsil upstream, if not due to the special coli-cidal properties in GANGAJAL? Well, WAPCOS was vain; RITES was wise enough not to test for coliforms or bacteria at all, and played safe. CPCB was forthright in their objective of equating Gangaji to other streams; so they probably sampled an incoming drain carrying septic tank overflow to find 377 MPN of fecal coliforms and 17000 of total coliforms at GANGOTRI. I would challenge them putting at stake all that I have, including my life, to prove these numbers for Gangaji at Gangotri following the standard river sampling and analytical techniques.
It is obvious that what science has done has biased, even fouled, our minds against everything that our sages said or believed. And poor Gangaji has been an easy prey.
Like the axiom in law to treat every one as not guilty unless proven to be guilty, there has to be an axiom in culture-related matters to accept, respect and protect all issues of faith and conviction of our age-old tradition, unless and until they are conclusively proven to be false or wrong. Let those who feel that Gangaji or Gangajal


have nothing special and can be treated and used for economic anthropocentric purposes like ordinary waters, carry out a comprehensive study to conclusively negate the cultural notions of special properties. And still they shall have no right to trounce on the cultural faith of the corers of believing, devout Hindus; they can only use the data to gradually dampen the faith.

Pradeep Srivastava said...

I have published the following in the "Letters to the Editor" segment of India Abroad, dated May 30, 2008:

Being an environmental engineer, by profession, I read with interest your article, "Clean water more important than antibiotics in India" (India Abroad; May 23, 2008). I am in total agreement with Dr. Suranjan Bhattacharji when he states, "You may be able to cure a person of typhoid but if he goes back to his village and keeps drinking water from a contaminated well, in six months he is likely to get typhoid again" It's just a matter of common sense that we cannot eliminate a problem until we address the root causes of the problem. Infected water causes an estimated 80 percent of diseases in India, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), making poor sanitation and inadequate sewage disposal the nation's biggest public health problems. Every year, there are epidemics of viral gastroenteritis, typhoid, and cholera. The bulk of municipal sewage flows untreated into rivers, lakes or the sea.
Other developing countries in Asia and Africa have similar health problems because, like India, they cannot afford the heavy public expenditure needed to build sewer systems. But diseases related to unsanitary conditions have been more prevalent in India because of its huge population.


One of the former IIT Kanpur professors, Dr. G.D. Agarwal, who taught me Surveying and Engineering Drawing at IIT Kanpur back in early 1960s, got so frustrated with the way Ganga is being abused, misused and mistreated that he has decided to go on fast unto death from June 17th (Ganga Dusserra) (For details, please refer to: http://designandpeople.blogspot.com/2008/05/hunger-strike-by-prof-gd-agarwal.html). He will find a suitable place in uttarkashi and start his fast from that place. He has written a letter to a few people close to him informing them of this decision and the reasons thereof asking them to pray for him to help him in his resolve. Dr. Agarwal is not a publicity seeker. He has not reached his decision in a hurry but after deliberating and contemplating about it for a long time. He is one of those legendary teachers whom their students remember even after years. He has inspired many, most prominent among them was late Anil Agarwal who founded Centre of Science and Environment, which is now being looked after by Sunita Narain. He was founder member secretary of the Pollution Control Board. But, above all, Prof. Agarwal is man of deep understanding and high integrity inspiring hundreds of his students the world over.

Prof. Agarwal has a deep understanding of Indian tradition and environment and thus has a very different perceptions about most environment related issues, more rooted and appropriate for our country and the world as well. He has been deeply disturbed, like many others, about the manner in which Ganga has been treated by successive governments over the years. We have been tampering with the Ganga, in particular the Bhagirathi (tehri dam is only one among many glaring examples) resulting it in only running like a trickle many times (because of the damming of the flow). At times there has been no water even in Haridwar. This is a severe blow on the faith of a large majority of people in this country. And faith is a big thing. It gives tremendous strength to cope with adversities in life. It also unites people. Dr. agarwal is much pained by what we are doing to the Ganga and the implications it may have on our people and our country. Having done the damage that we have done by building the Tehri dam he feels now at least the Ganga between Gomukh and Uttarkashi should be left alone, but we are tampering with it even in those areas. He has also been very disturbed about the river linking scheme of our government(s).

Please refer to the website cited above for the recommended steps to be taken to address the issues related to Ganga. Time is of the essence!

Thanks!

Pradeep Srivastava
Detroit, MI

Note: I have also signed the online petition. I didn't bother writing to American publications, for the issue would not have resonated with the mainstream Americans, anyway. Incidentally, I graduated from IIT Kanpur in 1967, majoring in Metallurgical Engineering.

Sridhar Srivastava said...

Dr. Sridhar Srivastava
Professor, NCERT

I worked with Chitrakoot University from 1993 to 2001 and have personally known Prof. G. D. Agarwal during that time.He is a man of strong determination and principles but I am worried about his health as an old person.I wish that somebody makes him aggree to stay back from such decision considering his old age. With no doubt about and all regards to his feeling for the pathetic situation of river, probabily he is needed more to this country as a man with great experience and ability to guide the youngers.

ashu said...

sir, can u please provide me the address where Dr.G.D. aggarwal is on strike ASAP.I want to be there.

Sethu Das said...

GD is in Delhi. GD is in some institute called Maharana Pratap sanstan. The address is : B2 Lawrence Road. You need to take a metro towards Kasmiri Gate and get off at a station called Keshavpuram. From here it seems this institute is a 5 minute walk.

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Anonymous said...

The cause is not at all convincing. there are few things which are disturbing.
why Prof. G. D Agarwal did not raise these issue during his career, why now?
what impact will the environment have with these dams in place is not convincing.
are we stopping these projects merely becasue it is being built on Ganga Ji?
whay do not we think it the other way around. less of hydro projects, more of thermal and gas Projects which are a definite impact to the environment.
let me share with the readers. most of the western countries have Hydro Power as their Base power and thermal as alternate. whereas in India Thermal is acting as a base power and Hydro as peaking, which is definately an adversity to the environment
hydro Power is green power, without any effluent.
River ganga is rather badly effected by effluents and garbage by industrial and residential units in plains, which definately needs a serious thought.

please think?

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