New Delhi: Shortly after the sudden demise of clean Ganga activist GD Agarwal, Congress on Thursday attacked the Modi government and said, "Is Namami Gange also a 'jumla' (rhetoric)?" Calling the Centre blind, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Agarwal's sacrifice might provide vision to the government.
"Modi ji said river Ganga is calling him but it is even more polluted than it was in 2014. Rs 22000 crore was allotted for cleaning it, not even 1/4th of it has been used," he told news agency ANI.
Activist GD Agarwal died earlier in the day following a heart attack in AIIMS Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. Agarwal was on an indefinite fast in Haridwar since June 22 in a bid to urge the government to clean river Ganga.
The environmentalist, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, fasted for 109 days to save the Ganga. He was forcibly picked up by the Uttarakhand police and hospitalised on Wednesday.
According to AIIMS Rishikesh, the activist suffered a cardiac arrest. He was administered a potassium and heart-related medicine intravenously when he was brought at the hospital.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and expressed his condolences. "Saddened by the demise of Shri #GDAgarwal Ji. His passion towards learning, education, saving the environment, particularly Ganga cleaning will always be remembered. My condolences", he said.
Union Minister Uma Bharti also expressed grief over Agarwal's demise. She said, "I am shocked by his demise. I had feared that this would happen. I have informed Nitin Gadkari and others about his demise."
Agarwal had served as a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. He had also worked as a Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
He was protesting against hydroelectric projects on the Ganga's tributaries and had demanded a law to protect the river.
Earlier, he had rejected a plea from Haridwar MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to end the fast, following assurances on his demands from the Centre.
Agarwal had been campaigning for the Ganga for several years and undertook a similar fast earlier as well.
A few years ago, he adopted Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand as his name.
As his fast continued, on September 9 Agarwal announced he will give up water in October.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga officials then talked with him and Congress president Rahul Gandhi expressed support.
The Ganga activist had donated his organs for medical research at the Rishikesh AIIMS, its director said.
(With inputs from agencies)