Anil Dave’s last wish: Plant trees, conserve rivers

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2018

Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave

The Environment Minister passed away on Thursday

In a fitting finishing stroke, Anil Madhav Dave, whose first and last stint as a minister was as the Minister of Environment, wished people would plant trees and conserve river systems in his memory. He passed away at the age of 60, from a cardiac arrest, after prolonged illness, during which he was seen missing several Ministry events and Parliament sessions.

In a statement of wish and will, signed as far back as 2012, Dave, a former RSS member, said no memorial should be constructed in his name following his death, nor programme, awards, or honours given in his memory.

“If someone wants to do something in my memory, I would be happy if they would plant trees and care for them. Similarly, one could take up conservation of river systems, to the best of their capabilities (translated from Hindi letter),” the wish and will said.

In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed shock at the demise of his “friend and very respected colleague” with whom he was in a meeting until late last evening.

Dave, who was well known for his work on river conservation, and oft remembered, was made the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, in July last year.

Even as the environmentalist took charge of the green ministry, Dave was well known for his statements on striking a balance between development and environment.

Remembered as a gentle, soft-spoken man, his loyalties to the party and the roadmaps drawn by Modi was often witnessed in the unwavering implementation of environmental clearances for projects and repeatedly voiced objections to delays in clearances. Despite being in the eye of several storms during his short tenure as the Environment Minister, he was seldom seen in the limelight, preferring to work in the background and “keeping his cards close” in his own words.

Dave, a trusted member of the BJP and respected by the Opposition, was in various committees over the years — including the committee on water resources — and more recently, in March 2015, was chosen to chair the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015.

As Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad remembered, Dave was an able Parliamentarian and a popular leader. By making him the Chairman of the select committees on two controversial Bills — Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill and the Real Estate Bill — the Modi government could ensure that a consensus could be brought on them. Eventually, both the Bills were passed by the Upper House. He was a key speaker for the BJP until he became a Minister in the Cabinet. He participated in 68 debates for the party during his tenure. He raised issues ranging from the pathetic condition of national highways to intrusion of Chinese helicopters into Indian Territory.

“Dave had been an active and respected member of Rajya Sabha since 2009, and his presence will be missed by all who worked with him,” Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari.

Published on May 18, 2017

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