NEW DELHI, March 20 (BSS/AFP) - An 80-year-old Indian scientist- turned-guru has been hospitalised during a hunger strike to protest against pollution and dams in the holy Ganges river.
G.D. Agrawal, a former professor of environmental engineering who is also known as Swami Gyan Swaroopanand, has refused food and water since March 8, one of his supporters told AFP.
"He will sacrifice his life for the river, so I hope the
government opens its eyes and accepts his demands," said Rajendra
Singh. "Nothing has been done to revive the river which is dying
a slow death."
Singh said Agrawal was on a "spiritual mission" to demand
the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Ganges is banned
and the water is cleaned of the industrial and human waste
discharged into the river every day.
Agrawal was rushed by air ambulance from the holy city of
Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges to hospital in central Delhi
Large sections of the 2,500-kilometre (1,500-mile) river,
which Hindus believe washes away all sins, are polluted by
sewage, discarded garbage and factory waste as it crosses the
northern Indian plains.
Last year, another holy man, Swami Nigamanand, had died in
the pilgrimage city of Haridwar after a fast to stop illegal
mining of the Ganges riverbed.
Agrawal's protest has gained strong public support as well
as endorsements from popular activist Anna Hazare and politicians
such as Narendra Modi, a senior member of the opposition Bhartiya