Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave passed away on Thursday. He was 60.
Dave, a member of the Rajya Sabha since 2009, was sworn in as a minister with independent charge of environment, forest and climate change last year. He was reportedly unwell and was also not attending office.
His death was condoled by senior politicians, including Prime Minister who said he was in a meeting with Dave on Wednesday evening and described the demise as a “personal loss”. “Anil Madhav Dave ji will be remembered as a devoted public servant. He was tremendously passionate towards conserving the environment,” Modi tweeted.
Dave was born in Barnagar in Madhya Pradesh and was a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) member since childhood. Dave’s first major political assignment was as adviser to then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti in 2004. He then was in political oblivion for some time as Bharti was replaced by Shivraj Singh Chouhan. But, then he started working on environment related issues on Narmada in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2009.
Those close to him said Modi was impressed with his organisation of a seminar on Hinduism and rivers at an event during 2015 Ujjain Kumbh. Experts from across the world attended the three-day conference inaugurated by the PM. A few months later, he was nominated as environment minister, replacing Prakash Javadekar.
The Minster had rubbished a Health Effects Institute study saying that 1.1 million Indians died because of air pollution in 2015 and requested the health ministry to conduct study on impact of air pollution. As environment minister, Dave had fastened approval of India’s first river-linking project Ken-Betwa falling in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. On Wednesday, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) gave its conditional principle approval to the project that will submerge one-third of Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh and will provide irrigation to 6.35 lakh hectares of drought prone Bundelkhand.
Dave took several policy initiatives, including delegating power to give environment clearance to building projects to the state governments and time-bound approval to projects. He pushed approval for genetically modified Mustard which was stalled for the last two years. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) last week recommended its commercial release to the government.