Bahuguna: Green crusader who pioneered Chipko movement


Cast in the Gandhian mould, renowned environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna who died of Covid-19 on Friday was a crusader dedicated to the pursuit of saving the Himalayan forests.

The Chipko movement of the 1970s which he launched with a bunch of dedicated environment activists like him, including Gaura Devi, to stop rampant felling of trees in the name of development was a reflection of how completely he identified with his cause.

Named “Chipko” as people hugged trees during the movement to spread the message of loving and protecting trees, it was an expression of the gratitude the crusader felt towards trees and forests for giving so much to humans, including oxygen, timber, shelter and medicine. “Development ca­n­not come about by butchering na­tu­re,” he would say, remember his close aides.

Noted environmentalist Anil Joshi, who had a long association with Bahuguna, said he was a reflection of Gandhi — a personification of the values the Mahatma represented. “In his austere lifestyle, his simplicity and the single mindedness with which he pursued his goal in life, he was a Gandhian in the true sense of the term,” said Joshi, who heads a well-known NGO HESCO that works for the environment.

“I have not seen Gandhi. But saw his reflection in Bahugunaji,” Joshi who was awarded Padma Shri in recognition of his contribution to the field of environment conservation said.

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