New Delhi: India’s environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, an expert in river conservation and an environmentalist at heart, died on Thursday morning in the national capital after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 60.

Dave, who became the minister for environment, forest and climate change last year, was working till Wednesday.

He met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening, and was in office the whole day. On Wednesday morning, he met civil society groups protesting against genetically modified mustard crop.

He was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) early Thursday morning where he breathed his last. He was unmarried.

Modi tweeted and expressed shock at the sudden demise of the environment minister, calling it a personal loss.

“Absolutely shocked by the sudden demise of my friend and a very respected colleague, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave ji. My condolences. Anil Madhav Dave ji will be remembered as a devoted public servant. He was tremendously passionate towards conserving the environment," Modi tweeted.

The prime minister also said that he was with Dave till late Wednesday evening discussing key policy issues. “This demise is a personal loss," the PM said.

President Pranab Mukherjee also tweeted, “Shocked by sudden demise of Union Environment Minister Shri Anil Dave; deepest condolences to his family & well wishers."

Dave had been keeping unwell since the past few months and was seen missing several programmes of the environment ministry and was absent from Parliament too on some occasions. However, according to his staff, he had recovered and was active from the last 10-15 days.

He was also scheduled to go to Coimbatore for official work on Thursday but the programme was cancelled on Wednesday night.

Dave became the environment minister last year on the eve of his birthday on 6 July, when the PM reshuffled his cabinet.

He used to cycle to Parliament but that changed when he became a minister.

Though he was an environmentalist and conservationist at heart, he vowed to strike a balance between development and environment soon after taking over.

Dave was a third-time Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament from Madhya Pradesh.

He was a former pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideological parent, and used to identify himself as an “RSS swayamsewak" (volunteer) on his Twitter handle before he became minister.

Dave was a post-graduate from Gujarati College in Indore, and wrote eight books (in Hindi and English), including one on climate change called Beyond Copenhagen and another on freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad.

He also earned praise for successfully organizing the World Hindi Conference in 2015.

Dave was also an active parliamentarian. Besides being a member of various parliamentary panels such as those on water resources and the consultative committee of the information and broadcasting ministry, Dave had also been chairman of the Select Committee on Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015, the Select Committee on the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, and the Select Committee on Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013.