The eminent environmentalist and Chipko movement pioneer Sunderlal Bahuguna died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikesh on Friday after battling COVID-19 for several days.
He was aged 94 and breathed his last at 12.05 pm, AIIMS Director Ravikant said, as reported by The Indian Express.
Bahuguna, an ardent eco-activist, spent his life persuading and educating the villagers to protest against the destruction of the forests. It was his endeavour and efforts that saw then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi banning the cutting of trees. One of his best-remembered slogans is "ecology is the permanent economy".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his grief over Bahuguna's death.
The Chipko Movement had gained traction under the leadership of Bahuguna. The movement started as a non-violent agitation in 1973 and it was aimed at the protection and conservation of trees.
Perhaps, another notable thing about it was that it best remembered for the collective mobilisation of women for the cause of preserving forests. The movement originated in Uttar Pradesh's Chamoli district (now Uttarakhand) in 1973 and in no time spread onto other states in northern India.
The name of the movement 'chipko' comes from the word 'embrace'. The villagers hugged the trees and encircled them to prevent them from being cut. Later on, he adopted Gandhian methods like satyagraha and hunger strikes to protest the building of the Tehri dam in Uttarakhand on the Bhagirathi river.
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