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Narmada and its Ecology Defined Anil Madhav Dave's Life

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated: May 18, 2017, 1:28 PM IST
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Narmada and its Ecology Defined Anil Madhav Dave's Life
Though Anil Dave was nominated to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, he was closely associated with Gujarat and its politics.

New Delhi: Anil Madhav Dave was an environmentalist, an author, an amateur pilot, and lastly, a politician.

Of all the different hats he donned seamlessly in the 60 years that he spent on this planet, Narmada and its ecology were always at the core of his work. Even as a Union minister, he yearned to remain connected with where he belonged — Narmada, the river whose name means ‘the Giver of Pleasure’.

During one of those rare interventions in Parliament last year, he said it in as many words.

“I have worked on river and water conservation before I came into politics and not merely because I am a politician. And when I will leave Delhi bag and baggage, I will continue to work on the subject,” he told the Lok Sabha amidst a loud applause from the Treasury Benches.

Narmada was Dave’s passion. The river and its surrounding habitat. Every year, he would return to it during winters — the biennial ‘River Festival’ he helped organise. He founded ‘Narmada Samagra’ an organisation which worked for the conservation of river and its catchment area. He flew a Cessna aircraft, circumambulating the river; and traversed the entire course on a raft, 1,312 km in 19 days, to flag conservation issues.

ALSO READ | Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave Passes Away at 60

Dave did his masters in rural development and management from Indore. Associated with the RSS, he was active in student politics and participated in the Jayaprakash Narayan movement. He worked on social-political issues, but soon made Narmada and its catchment area his karmabhoomi.

The first book that he authored was on the river and its journey from its origin to the Bay of Bengal — Amarkantak se Amarkantak tak.

Though Dave was nominated to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, he was closely associated with Gujarat and its politics. A close aide of Prime Minster Narendra Modi, he was regular visitor to Gandhinagar when Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat.

“Environment was his passion. For instance, pollution and encroachment on Bangalore lakes was something that he earnestly looked into soon after taking over as the minister,” said a BJP leader.

His biggest challenge perhaps would have come in the days ahead. On approval for commercial use of genetically modified (GM) crops.

The RSS affiliates were up in arms against the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for having cleared GM Mustard. Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) was livid, and had called it a ‘complete sellout’ to the multinationals.

Dave was not keeping well since January this year. He hardly attended the Budget session. Last week, a common friend said that Dave had recovered and would be meeting journalists soon. I also had a few questions in mind, a small interview perhaps, on the GM controversy.

But all of a sudden, on Thursday morning, the news of his passing away came.

First Published: May 18, 2017, 12:59 PM IST
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