Environmental activist Sundarlal Bahuguna, a pioneer of the Chipko Movement against deforestation in the 1970s, died in Uttarakhand this afternoon. He was 94 years old.
The noted activist died in his native state of Uttarakhand due to Covid-19 related health complications. He was a pioneer of the well-known Chipko Movement, which was against deforestation in the 1970s. He was declared dead by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh, where he had been admitted for Covid-19 treatment.
Bahuguna was admitted to AIIMS on May 8 after testing Covid positive. His condition became critical later as his oxygen levels dropped drastically.
Who Was Sundarlal Bahuguna?
One of India’s best-known environmentalists, Bahuguna was instrumental behind the Chipko movement. The word means “to hug”. During the period of the 1970s, reckless felling of trees began affecting lives and livelihoods. Villagers of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli started protesting. The boiling point came when the then government, in January 1974, came out with the auction of around 2,500 trees. These trees were close to the Alakananda river.
When the tree cutters arrived, a girl informed the village heads about them. Women in large numbers came out and stopped the men by hugging the trees. This signified an embrace, despite the fact that they were being threatened. Three local women: Sudesha Devi, Gaura Devi, and Bachni Devi spearheaded the cause.
Bahuguna gave a direction to the Chipko movement and appealed to the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This resulted in a 15 year ban on chopping of trees in the year 1980. Later on, Bahuguna used several of well-known Gandhian methods such as satyagraha as well as hunger strikes to protest against the building of Tehri dam in Uttarakhand, that was being built on the Bhagirathi river.
People across the board have condoled the death of Bahuguna, including the Indian Prime Minister. He said that the noted environmentalist represented centuries-old ethos of living in harmony with mother nature.
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