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Minister who tried to green world no more
Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave passed away on Thursday due to a massive heart attack. Cardiac specialists at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) tried to revive the 60-year-old Minister for more than an hour before declaring him dead around 9:45 am.
A modest man committed to environment protection, Dave set an example for all those politicians who are fascinated with memorials and statues. He left behind a Will that shows not just his humbleness despite attaining great heights in public life, but his deep concern for the environment that should serve as an inspiration for all the green warriors.
His last Will and testament, written on July 23, 2012, states: “If you want to cherish my memories, plant trees and save them. This would give me pleasure.
Maximum efforts should be made for the conservation of rivers and waterbodies and by doing so, use of my name should be avoided.”
Dave, a bachelor, also made it clear that a memorial or statue should not be established nor any competition or award be instituted in his name.”If possible, my cremation should be performed on the banks of Narmada River at Bandrabhan where Nadi Mahotsav was organised,” he stated.
Born in Barnagar in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain district in 1956, Dave, who was known for his simple living, wore many hats-he was an environmentalist, river conservationist, author, amateur pilot and lastly, a politician.
A Rajya Sabha member since 2009, Dave did his Masters in Rural Development and management from Indore in MP. Associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 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.
He inherited the legacy of the RSS from his grandfather Dadasaheb Dave and volunteered to be a Pracharak after completing higher studies.
He rose in the RSS echelons over the years and was deputed to the BJP, right before the MP Assembly Elections in 2003.
A master strategist, Dave was credited with bringing the BJP to power in MP in 2003 by running a successful campaign against the then Congress Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh. He served as chief of its election management committee thrice during the State Assembly elections in 2003, 2008 and 2013 and Lok Sabha elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
Though Dave was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, he was closely associated with Gujarat and its politics. A close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he was a regular visitor to Gandhinagar when Modi was the Chief Minister of the State.
Narmada and its ecology were always at the core of his work. Even as a Union Minister and despite his failing health, he put in long hours in office and yearned to remain connected with the river. It reflected in one of those rare interventions in Parliament last year where he said, “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.”
In fact, 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.
Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan has been given additional charge of the Environment Ministry following Dave’s demise.
Soon after his death, condolences started pouring in. President Pranab Mukherjee termed Dave’s tenure as distinguished by extensive efforts to conserve nature and protect the environment while Vice- President Hamid Ansari called him a humble human being.
The Prime Minister tweeted, “Absolutely shocked by the sudden demise of my friend & a very respected colleague, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave ji. My condolences.”
Modi added, “I was with Anil Madhav Dave ji till late last evening, discussing key policy issues.”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi too joined Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, former Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab and president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife, former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal among others in paying tributes to Dave.
Mourning Dave’s death, former Rajya Sabha MP and Editor-in-Chief of The Pioneer Chandan Mitra tweeted, “Deeply saddened to learn of Anil Madhav Dave’s untimely demise. A fine, upright man with whom I shared a bench in Rajya Sabha for 6 years.”
UN Environment Programme Executive Director Erik Solheim described him as a wonderful advocate for the environment.
As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, the national flag flew at half-mast on Thursday across the States on all the buildings where it is flown regularly and will fly at half-mast on the day of the cremation on Friday also.
State BJP’s media in-charge Lokendra Parashar said that as per Dave’s wish, his last rites will be performed at Bandrabhan on the banks of Narmada River in Hoshangabad district at 10 am on Friday. Two-days’ State morning has been declared by the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
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