The face of the Chipko movement Sunderlal Bahuguna has died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh on Friday after battling COVID-19 for several days. He was 94.
Bahuguna, one of India’s best known environmentalists, 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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in tweet expressed his grief as he wrote , Passing away of Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna Ji is a monumental loss for our nation. He manifested our centuries old ethos of living in harmony with nature. His simplicity and spirit of compassion will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with his family and many admirers. Om Shanti.
Passing away of Shri Sunderlal Bahuguna Ji is a monumental loss for our nation. He manifested our centuries old ethos of living in harmony with nature. His simplicity and spirit of compassion will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with his family and many admirers. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 21, 2021
The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan, was a forest conservation movement in India. It began in 1973 in Uttarakhand, then a part of Uttar Pradesh (at the foothills of Himalayas) and went on to become a rallying point for many future environmental movements all over the world. It created a precedent for starting nonviolent protest in India.
However, it was Sunderlal Bahuguna, a Gandhian activist, who gave the movement a proper direction and its success meant that the world immediately took notice of this non-violent movement, which was to inspire in time many similar eco-groups by helping to slow down the rapid deforestation, expose vested interests, increase social awareness and the need to save trees, increase ecological awareness, and demonstrate the viability of people power. He used the slogan , “Ecology is the permanent economy.” Above all, it stirred up the existing civil society in India, which began to address the issues of tribal and marginalized people.
And it’s true that the support for the movement came mainly from the womenfolk. The Chipko Andolan or the Chipko movement is a movement that practiced methods of Satyagraha where both male and female activity cests from Uttarakhand played vital roles, including Gaura Devi, Suraksha Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi and Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Virushka Devi and others.
In 1987, the Chipko movement was awarded the Right Livelihood Award “for its dedication to the conservation, restoration and ecologically-sound use of India’s natural resources.”
Chipko-type movements date back to 12 September 1730 AD when in village of Rajasthan, 363 Bishnois sacrificed their lives to save Khejri trees.