Monday, February 23, 2009

Dr. G.D. Agrawal's Fast Successful

Press Release - 20.02.2009

For Immediate Release

GoI Suspends Work On Loharinag-Pala Dam

In a letter dated February 19, 2009 to Dr. G.D. Agrawal, the Union Ministry of Power stated that it had decided to suspend work on the Loharinag-Pala hydropower project on the Bhagirathi river with immediate effect. In response Dr. Agrawal ended his fast this morning at 11:00am.

It may be recalled that Dr. G.D. Agrawal had begun a fast-unto-death on June 13, 2008 demanding that the Bhagirathi river be allowed to flow in its natural form from Gangotri to Uttarkashi. He suspended that fast on June 30, 2008 after the Union Ministry of Power decided to appoint a High Level Expert Group to look into the technical issues pertaining to ensuring adequate environmental flows in all stretches of the Bhagirathi river and keeping it alive.

Dissatisfied with the delays and the nature of the discussions in the HLEG, Dr. Agrawal resumed his fast-unto-death in New Delhi on January 14, 2009.

“The decision of the Union Ministry of Power has been taken at the instance of the Prime Minister’s Office. This is a welcome decision. Earlier the Prime Minister had taken the important step to designate the Ganga as India’s National River. The latest decision shows that the Prime Minister recognizes the gravity of the demand to ensure that the Bhagirathi river should be allowed to flow unhindered in its uppermost reach. We hope that the Government of Uttarakhand will be equally sensitive to the special reverence that Indians have for the Ganga and not resume work on its suspended projects,” says Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director, People’s Science Institute, Dehra Doon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Press Release - 12.02.2009

Bhagirathi Bachao Sankalp
Under the Banner of Indian Council for Enviro Legal Action (ICELA)
Kuriyal Bhawan, Bhairav Chowk, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
Telefax: 01374-222937
For immediate release
Dr. G.D. Agrawal to continue his fast : 30th day

Dr. G.D. Agrawal, who is on a fast-unto-death against the construction of any project on the Bhagirathi between Gangotri and Uttarkashi has rejected the Union Ministry of Power’s request to end his fast saying that he could only do so once the natural flow of the Bhagirathi between Gangotri and Uttarkashi is guaranteed by the government and all works on the Loharinag-Pala HEP are stopped.
Meanwhile, recent reports in Dehra Doon’s local newspapers, attributed to highly placed sources, suggesting that the state government is likely to soon resume work on the Pala-Maneri and the Bhaironghati, hydro electric projects on the Bhagirathi, have been challenged by Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director, People’s Science Institute, Dehra Doon. “These reports are contrary to the stated policy of the Government of India,” says Dr. Ravi Chopra.
Giving details Dr. Chopra said, “In a letter dated February 5th to Dr. G.D. Agrawal, the Union Ministry of Power states that the GoI has confirmed that no further hydroelectric projects will be undertaken on the Bhagirathi.”
Dr. Chopra also dismissed the claims of these highly placed sources that the Government of Uttarakhand would soon resume work on its suspended HEPs once the recommendation of the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) for 4 cumecs environmental flow downstream of the Loharinag-Pala HEP were accepted by the Government of India. “This recommendation of the HLEG has clearly been rejected by the Government of India. Referring to a meeting held with Union Minister of Power, Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde and the Minister of State Prime Minister’s Office, Shri Prithiviraj Chavan, among others, the above-mentioned letter states that it has been agreed that the minimum flow of water from Lohari Nagpala barrage in the river bed during the lean period shall be ensured at 16 cumecs or as may be decided by the Ganga River Authority, which is under formation. The so-called highly placed sources appear to be highly motivated and are deliberately trying to mislead Uttarakhand’s people and decision makers,” charged Dr. Chopra.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Press Release - 30.01.2009

For Immediate Release


January 30, 2009
Environmentalists, social activists organize collective fast in support of Dr. Agarwal
New Delhi, January 30, 2009: A congregation of environmentalists and social activists from various parts of the country today undertook a collective fast at Gandhi Darshan, in support of renowned environmentalist Dr. G.D. Agarwal, who is on fast-unto-death for putting an immediately halt to all construction activities on the 600 MW Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower Project in Uttarakhand. His fast-unto-death continued for the seventeenth day today.
In the morning, the congregation assembled at Gandhi Darshan on the occasion of Gandhiji’s Martyrdom Day today and undertook the collective fast to express their support to Dr. Agarwal even as his fast to maintain uninterrupted flow in river Bhagirathi continued for the 17th day today.
“Waterman of India” Rajendra Singh, noted Supreme Court Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, Dr. Ravi Chopra, Director People’s Science Institute, Dehradun, Banwasi Sewa Ashram’s Shubha Bahen and Abhimanyu from Chitrakoot, among others, were present on the occasion.
Dr. Agarwal, who has served as the Head of the Department of Environmental Engineering at IIT, Kanpur, had earlier undertaken a fast-unto-death in June last year to press for his demand for allowing free and unhindered flow of Bhagirathi river between Gangotri and Uttarkashi.

(186 words)
For further information, please contact: Anil Gautam-0135-2762516, 9412176896Pavitra Singh 011-32088803, 9410706109

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dr. G.D. Agarwal in Amar Ujala

Press Release - 28.01.2009

Bhagirathi Bachao Sankalp
Under the Banner of Indian Council for Enviro Legal Action (ICELA)
Kuriyal Bhawan, Bhairav Chowk, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
Telefax: 01374-222937,, Website:

For Immediate Release

January 28, 2009
Erstwhile princely states’ rulers pledge to protect and preserve Ganga’s honour and dignity
New Delhi, January 28, 2009: Rulers of erstwhile princely states in India today pledged to unitedly impress upon the government to maintain the honour and dignity surrounding the river Ganga as well as its national river status. At a general meeting organized today in the campus of Gandhi Darshan, by “Waterman of India” Mr. Rajendra Singh in support demands raised by Dr. G.D. Agarwal on the issue, speakers said they were ready to shoulder the onerous duty of protecting the river Ganga.
Maharaja Gaj Singh, representing the erstwhile Jodhpur state, said that all concerned should come forward to protect the river Ganga and help in effectively highlighting the demands raised by Dr. Agrawal before the Centre. The today’s meeting was organized in response to the earlier ultimatum that the erstwhile royalty had served upon the government that if it failed to stop work on the Lohari Nag Pala Hydropower project by January 28, 2009, they would launch an agitation on the issue. Members of the erstwhile royalty said their ancestors had entered into an agreement in 1916 with the then British government, to not allow any construction activity on the Ganga upstream of Haridwar.
Speaking on the occasion, Mahant Shivananda from Haridwar said that the river Ganga represented nation’s honour which is supreme. But the government deceived Dr. Agarwal on the issue of maintaining the dignity and honour of the important river, he said. He said that all should unitedly forge a common front to prevail upon the government that issues of faith cannot be weighed in terms of pieces of silver. He appealed to the government to maintain the dignity, respect and honour of the national river.
Mahant Veer Bhadra from Sankatmochan Foundation, Varanasi, said that Lord Rama’s name and the river Ganga were two important basic tenets of the Indian philosophy of life. He lamented the government was not taking the requisite steps to protect and preserve the river Ganga.
Former Tehri (Uttarakhand) ruler Manujendra Shah said that the flow the river Ganga should not be hindered.
Noted environmentalist Sunita Narain said that unhindered flow of water in a river is a pre-requisite to preventing pollution in it. She said that a river can be said to be alive only if it has a free flow of water in all its stretches. Ms. Narain said that detailed project report of hydro power project only document details of a particular project while completely ignoring the important factors governing the river’s very existence. She said that Dr. Agarwal’s efforts would result in the emergence of a new dawn on important environmental issues.
In his address to the gathering, Dr. Agarwal termed the river Ganga as the nation’s identity. He said that maintaining pristine and natural flows in the upper reaches of the river is highly important. He said it is highly unfortunate that the river Ganga’s festive spirit has been completely ignored by the people.
Mr. Digvijay Singh, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh said that there is a special place for the river Ganga in the hearts and minds of the people of India. Mr. Singh praised the efforts of Dr. Agarwal in raising important issues connected with faith and belief and urged all concerned to fully supported the cause of protecting the river Ganga.
Gandhi Peace Foundation’s Radha Bahen said that Dr. Agarwal’s commitment to the protection of the sanctity of the river Ganga is exemplary as it is not an ordinary river.

(570 words)
For further information, please contact: Anil Gautam-0135-2762516, 9412176896Pavitra Singh 011-32088803, 9410706109