Environmental activist Sundarlal Bahuguna passes away due to coronavirus

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Sundarlal Bahuguna (Image: Twitter/ANI)
Sundarlal Bahuguna (Image: Twitter/ANI)

New Delhi : Environmental activist Sundarlal Bahuguna, a pioneer of the Chipko Movement against deforestation in the 1970s, passed away on Friday due to coronavirus in Uttarakhand. He was 94 years old.

He was declared dead by AIIMS Rishikesh on Friday after noon. He was admitted there for the treatment of coronavirus, ANI reported. Mr Bahuguna died at 12.05 pm AIIMS Rishikesh Director Ravikant said.

He was admitted to AIIMS Rishikesh on May 8 after he tested positive for coronavirus. His condition turned critical last night, with his oxygen level dropping drastically. He was on CPAP therapy in the hospital's ICU.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled his death with a post on social media.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat expressed sadness saying it was Mr Bahuguna who turned the Chipko movement into one of the masses.

Chipko means "to hug". In 1970s, mass cutting of trees was underway for development, people of Chamoli objected to it and began to protest. The tipping point came when the government, in January 1974, announced the auction of 2,500 trees, overlooking the Alakananda river.

When the uprooting was about to begin, women in large groups hugged trees to stop their cutting. Three local women, Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, and Bachni Devi, championed the cause. Mr Bahuguna gave a direction to the movement and his appeal to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi resulted in a 15-year ban on chopping of green trees in 1980.