Environmental activist and Chipko Movement leader Sunderlal Bahuguna died of the coronavirus at the All India Institute of Medical Science in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, on Friday, reported PTI. He was 94.

Bahuguna died at 12.05 pm, said hospital director Ravikant.

He was admitted to the hospital on May 8 after testing positive for Covid. His condition had turned critical on Thursday night as his oxygen level started to drop drastically.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Bahuguna’s death a monumental loss for the country.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat condoled Bahuguna’ death and described it as a big loss for the entire world, reported NDTV. “It was he who made the Chipko movement a movement of the masses,” Rawat said.

Bahuguna had educated villagers on protesting against the destruction of the forests and Himalayan mountains. He is best remembered for the slogan, “ecology is the permanent economy”.

The Chipko movement was a non-violent agitation in 1973 against the felling of trees and maintaining the ecological balance. It is remembered for the collective mobilisation of women for the cause of preserving forests. The women hugged tress to protect them from being cut. Started in Uttar Pradesh’s Chamoli district – now in Uttarakhand – the movement soon spread to other states in North India.

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