New Delhi–Union Environment Minister Anil Dave, a committed environmentalist who had worked on green projects including conservation of the Narmada river, died here on Thursday morning following cardiac arrest.
He was 61 and was a bachelor.
Meena Agarwal, the wife of Dave’s family physician Bharat Agarwal, told IANS that his family tried to wake him up in the morning but he appeared unconscious.
He was rushed to the AIIMS at 9 a.m. “in a stage of cardiac arrest”, a hospital statement said.
“All possible measures were taken immediately at AIIMS, but he could not survive and (was) declared dead around 9.45 a.m.,” the AIIMS statement said.
Dave hailed from Madhya Pradesh where he had done a stint as Minister of Environment. He was inducted into the Union Council of Ministers on July 6, 2016 as Minister of State for Environment with independent charge.
He had worked on conservation projects including of the Narmada river and founded “Narmada Samagra” for the purpose.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in mourning the loss of Dave whom he had met only on Wednesday evening. They expressed shock over the sudden death.
“Absolutely shocked by the sudden demise of my friend and a very respected colleague, Daveji. My condolences,” Modi said in a condolence message.
The Prime Minister said Dave would be remembered as a “devoted public servant who “was tremendously passionate towards conserving the environment”.
“I was with Daveji till late last evening, discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss,” Modi said.
One of those who attended that meeting recalled that Dave was looking “pale and weak but sat through the long meeting with the Prime Minister”.
Mukherjee said Dave’s tenure as the minister was “distinguished by extensive efforts to conserve nature and protect environment”.
BJP President Amit Shah, senior leader L. K. Advani, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and a host of ministers, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu, condoled Dave’s death. They hailed him as a committed environmentalist.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said Dave would be remembered for his humble personality.
Dave had not been well since January when he was diagnosed with pneumonia and had been feeling “badly weak” in the past few days, family sources said.
Dave, who began his political career during his college days in his home state of Madhya Pradesh, was a Rajya Sabha member since 2009.
He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh after completing his post-graduation in commerce from Gujarati College in Indore. His father Dadasaheb Dave had been a long time RSS activist.
The government announced national mourning and “as a mark of respect” in his memory the National Flag will fly at half-mast across the country.
His portfolio has been given to Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan as additional charge.