Union environment minster Anil Madhav Dave passed away in the national capital on Thursday morning. He was 60.
Cardiac specialists at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) tried to resuscitate him for more than an hour before declaring him dead around 9:30am.
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 since January this year and was also not attending office.
“The minister is unwell and has not been coming to office on regular basis. We brief him at his residence,” a senior environment ministry official had told HT on Wednesday, a day before his death.
Dave was rushed to the cardiology department around 8.15am after he complained of uneasiness, shortness of breath and chest pain.
“He was brought straight to the cardio- thorasic tower two at the hospital and admitted into the cardiac care unit (ccu), which is the Intensive Care Unit for cardiac emergencies,” said a source in the hospital, requesting anonymity as the person is not authorised to speak to media.
“Doctors tried hard to revive him, but his condition kept on deteriorating,” said the source.
Dave was under the care of Dr Gautam Sharma, professor in the department of cardiology at the hospital.
His body is being taken from the AIIMS Mortuary to the department of anatomy for embalming. It will be flown to his hometown Indore later for the last rites.
His death was condoled by senior politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi 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.
Born in Barnagar in Madhya Pradesh, Dave was a Rashtriya Swyamsewak Sangh (RSS) member since childhood. His first major political assignment was as an adviser to then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti in 2004.
He then went into political oblivion for sometime 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.
From the start, the minister had shown his disdain for civil society activists and had told the HT that “he will not talk with those who give speeches sitting in air-conditioned offices”.
He had also rubbished a Health Effects Institute study that said 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 irrigate 6.35 lakh hectares of land in 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 to the government its commercial release.