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Chipko movement pioneer Sundarlal Bahuguna dies of covid-19

The renowned environmentalist and Padma Shri awardee had fought for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas for years

A file picture of Chipko movement leader Sundarlal Bahuguna. (HT_PRINT)

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, May 21: Renowned environmentalist and Chipko movement leader Sundarlal Bahuguna succumbed to covid-19 infection at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikesh on Friday. He was 94.

"Chipko movement leader Sundarlal Bahuguna died of COVID-19 at AIIMS, Rishikesh today," AIIMS Rishikesh informed.

The 94-year-old, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri awardee was admitted to the hospital after his oxygen levels started fluctuating on May 8.

Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat mourned the demise of an environmental activist and prayed for peace to the departed soul: "Received the most painful news of the demise of Sundarlal Bahuguna, the pioneer of the Chipko movement, Padma Vibhushan, a great environmentalist famously known as Vrikshamitra in the world. My mind is very distressed after hearing this news. This is an irreparable loss not only to Uttarakhand but to the entire country," tweeted the chief minister.

He said the efforts of Bahuguna, who made the issues of water, forest, and land his priority, and fought for people's rights, will always be remembered.

"He was awarded the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1986 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2009 for his significant contribution in the field of environmental protection. In the field of environmental protection, Sunderlal Bahuguna's works will be written in golden letters in history," Rawat added.

Earlier in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind also tweeted about Bahuguna and how his demise marked "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," the president's tweet read.

The environmentalist had fought for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas for years. He is hugely credited for the success of the Chipko movement that began in 1973 at the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand (then a part of Uttar Pradesh).

The environment activist was also actively involved in the Anti-Tehri Dam movement, which highlighted multiple human rights and environmental issues related to the construction of the dam.

(With inputs from ANI)

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