A seer who has been on a fast for the past 12 days has refused to end it, stressing he has resolved to go ahead with his agitation for an indefinite time until his demands of closing all hydropower projects on the Ganga and its tributaries are met.
Bahamchari Atmabodhanand of Haridwar’s Matri Sadan ashram who has been on a diet of water, lemon, salt and honey, also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, describing his fast as ‘tapasya’, a fight against corruption and for preserving the environment.
A native of Kerala, the computer science graduate took to spiritualism in 2014 after a pilgrimage to Badrinath where he met Matri Sadan ashram founder Swami Shivanand Saraswati who took him under his wing.
Brahmachari Atmabodhanand who has lost 2 kg body weight since February 23 when he started his fast, reiterated that unless all his demands are sincerely met he won’t give up his agitation.
Atmabodhanand is also demanding the prohibition on stone crusher units within 5 km periphery of Ganga riverbed, a blanket prohibition on quarrying from Raiwala till Bhogpur, the formation of Ganga Council, speedy enacting of Ganga Act and ensuring a free unhindered flow of Hinduisms holiest river.
“It is of utter dismay that mining is continuing in the restricted areas and Ganga river’s flow is being stopped by means of numerous hydropower projects which off late has resulted in environmental implications leading to the Kedarnath flash floods way back in 2013 and recently glacier breach in Tapovan, Chamoli on Rishi Ganga-Dhauli Ganga stretch,” Atmabodhanand wrote in his letter to PM Modi.
Brahamchari Atmabodhanand has a record of going on fasts. He had fasted a record 194 days from October 14, 2018 till May 4, 2019 on similar demands for prohibition on quarrying and hydropower projects.
His last agitation lasted 41 days in February-March 2020 prior to the lockdown imposition when he sat on agitation in support of Sadhvi Padmavati, another disciple of Swami Shivanand Saraswati, who also staged 100 days of agitation last year demanding a ban on quarrying.
Prior to Brahamchari in October 2018, Sant Gopal Das had also started fast unto death agitation at Matri Sadan ashram, within hours of the demise of Gyan Swarup Sanand, a former Indian Institute of Technology professor.
Swami Sanand had started his fast on June 20, 2018 demanding total ban on quarrying, removal of all stone crushers from Ganga river bed, stopping of hydropower projects on the eco-sensitive zone of Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and Ganga. He died after 112 days on October 11, 2018.
On the same demands another Matri Sadan seer Swami Nigmanand had died on June 13, 2011 after 114 days of indefinite fast carried at Matri Sadan ashram which brought global attention towards illegal quarrying and the ill effects of hydro power projects on Ganga and ecology.