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FILE PHOTO: India's minister of environment, forest and climate change Anil Madhav Dave arrives for a bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry during the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on the elimination of hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) use in Kigali, Rwanda October 14, 2016. REUTERS/James Akena

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's environment minister died on Thursday, depriving Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of a key figure as it considers whether to approve the country's first genetically modified food crop.

Anil Madhav Dave, 60, died at a New Delhi hospital after complaining of feeling unwell, a day after attending a cabinet meeting.

The two-term lawmaker from Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, a veteran of Hindu-nationalist umbrella group the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was named last year as minister for the environment, forest and climate change.

Dave had been due to take a final call on an application for an indigenously developed GM crop of mustard, which is similar to rapeseed. A ministry panel recently recommended allowing commercial cultivation of the oilseed.

"I was with Anil Madhav Daveji till late last evening, discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss," Modi said on social network Twitter, employing an honorific suffix widely used in India.

(Reporting by Malini Menon; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Clarence Fernandez)

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