When Kanpur’s IIT professor, G.D. Agrawal decided to go on a fast to death in order to persuade the government to take up the cleaning of the waters of River Ganga, no one would have imagined that his determination would last till his eyes closed for the last time. The 86-year-old activist had taken up the cause of the Ganga on June 22, 2018 when he decided to start his fast till death. His death is the second one for the cause in this last decade. In 2011, India lost Swami Nigamananda Saraswati who had fasted till death for the same cause.
Agrawal had chosen to stay on a diet of honey and water in order to highlight the pressing situation of River Ganga and to encourage higher participation in the cleaning projects of River Ganga. He was planning to give water as well and had announced that he would give up his life for the river. The state government admitted him to AIIMS Rishikesh where he would be looked after. On October 11, he suffered a cardiac arrest which led to his death.
The nation wept in wake of his loss but a clean Ganga continues to be a dream far from being achieved. G.D. Agrawal used a non-violent means to encourage the government to take up responsibility for the cleanliness of the river. Many other activists have been fighting for the same cause, but so far, River Ganga which is also considered to be the river where all sins could be washed away is in a dismal state, waiting to be restored.
Let us not sit and wait for someone else to take up the onus of cleaning the rivers. It is time that we took up the responsibility and worked in concert with the government to improve the state of our rivers and to make India and water-sufficient and water-efficient country.