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Environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna passes away

A pioneer in environmental protection, Mr. Bahuguna led the charge against the construction of big dams in the Himalayas in the 1980s.

Well-known environmentalist and Gandhian Sunderlal Bahuguna is no more. He was 94. Mr. Bahuguna is reported to have died from COVID-related complications at AIIMS in Rishikesh.

was admitted to the hospital on May 8 after testing positive for Covid. He had been critical since last night with his oxygen level dropping drastically. He was on CPAP therapy in the ICU of the premier hospital, according to PTI.

A pioneer in environmental protection, Mr. Bahuguna led the charge against the construction of big dams in the Himalayas in the 1980s. He was fervently opposed to the construction of the Tehri dam.

Mr. Bahuguna, who lived for decades in his Silyara ashram in Tehri Garhwal, inspired many young people in his passion for the environment. His ashram was open to young people, with whom he communicated with ease.

An easy communicator, Mr. Bahuguna wrote about the problems of deforestation for many years – drawing a link between the lack of tree cover and the drying up of springs in the Himalayas.

He, along with local women, founded the Chipko movement in the seventies to prevent the felling of trees in the ecologically sensitive zones. The movement’s success led to enacting a law to ban the felling of trees in ecologically sensitive forest lands. He also coined the Chipko slogan: ‘ecology is permanent economy’.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat condoled his death in a tweet, saying that his departure was a loss to the environmental world.

Expressing grief on the death of Mr. Bahuguna, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it is a "monumental loss" for our nation, and he manifested our centuries-old ethos of living in harmony with nature.

President Ram Nath Kovind too condoled his death. “The demise of Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna marks the end of a glorious chapter in the field of conservation. A ‘Padma Vibhushan’ awardee, he was a Gandhian to the core. A legend in his own right, he made conservation a people’s movement. My condolences to his family and admirers,” Mr. Kovind tweeted.

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