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A River Swept Away

With their many dams and tunnels, hydel projects along the Ganga’s upper reaches are choking it out of existence. A stir is on.

Anjali Suri
Outlook India, June 30, 2008

There are times when, even in a country of over one billion people, it takes just one man on a mission to stir things up. Last week, that man was Gurudas Agrawal. The 76-year-old retired professor from iit Kanpur defies easy classification: an environmental engineer with a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, he has been at the helm of government pollution control efforts and remains a sought-after environmental impact consultant. A deeply religious person, he leads a spartan life in Chitrakoot, a Madhya Pradesh town, and calls himself a Ram bhakt. He is among a clutch of scientists who strongly believe, along with millions of devout Hindus, in the superior quality of Gangajal compared to the waters of other rivers. He embarrassed that arch-proponent of Hindutva, Murli Manohar Joshi, by resigning in protest from an NDA government committee chaired by the then HRD minister to investigate the impact of the Tehri dam on the self-purifying quality of the Ganga’s waters, and to this day, assails the panel for “insulting the Hindu samaj” by fudging the issue. In short, he is a stubborn old man who won’t be fobbed off easily, and unlike many scientists, not shy of advancing strong religious arguments along with environmental ones. [more]