Sunderlal Bahuguna

Well-known environmentalist and Chipko Movement leader Sunderlal Bahuguna died on Friday due to Covid-19 complications.

He succumbed to the disease while undergoing treatment at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Rishikesh.

He was 94. A recipient of India’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, Bahuguna was admitted to AIIMs on May 8 and was on ventilator support.

“Bahuguna passed away at around 12noon. He was on ventilator support as he was severely infected…,” said AIIMS (Rishikesh) public relations officer Harish Mohan Thapliyal.

Thapliyal said Bahuguna was also suffering from high blood sugar and hypertension.

A long-time follower of Gandhian principles, Bahuguna transformed the spontaneous Chipko Movement into a turning point in India’s forest conservation efforts.

During the 1970s, when the reckless cutting of trees began affecting people’s livelihoods, villagers in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli began to protest.

The tipping point came when the government, in January 1974, announced the auction of 2,500 trees, overlooking the Alakananda river.

Bahuguna gave a direction to the movement and his appeal to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi resulted in a 15-year ban on chopping green trees in 1980.

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