PUNE, Oct 14 (IANS): Former union minister and deputy chairman of Planning Commission Mohan Dharia passed away in a private hospital here following prolonged illness, a family friend said Monday.
He was 89 and is survived by his wife Shashikala, sons Sushil and Ravindra and daughter Sadhana Shroff.
Dharia was admitted to the Pune Hospital in Sadashivpeth for treatment of a kidney ailment last Saturday, but failed to recover.
Dharia breathed his last at around 7.55 a.m. Monday, said his close friend of nearly five decades, Chandrakant Ingulkar.
The funeral details shall be decided after the eldest son Sushil, who lives in the US returns here, Ingulkar said.
A lawyer by profession, two-time member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Dharia had been a prominent figure in the state and national politics.
He served as a minister of state under prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1971 but left the Congress after the imposition of the Emergency in 1975.
He joined the Bharatiya Lok Dal and later became commerce minister under prime minister Morarji Desai in 1977.
Born Feb 14, 1925 in Mahad town of Raigad district in Maharashtra, Dharia completed his schooling there before moving to Pune and completed his law from ILS Law College.
Simultaneously, he joined the Praja Socialist Party and plunged into the Indian freedom struggle and post-Independence joined fulltime politics from the Pune Municipal Corporation.
After an active life in politics spanning nearly five decades, he became a dedicated environmentalist and champion of farmers rights.
He founded the Vanrai, an umbrella organisation comprising thousands of non-government organisations, through which over 25 million saplings were distributed free to the people as part of an afforestation drive, Ingulkar added.
Among many other awards, Dharia was conferred with the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honour for his social work in 2005.