‘Mother Earth lost a dear son who stood guard to save its natural resources’

Chandigarh mourns the passing of Sunderlal Bahuguna, who fought to save many trees in City Beautiful

“He had a white beard, wore a white head scarf. Children loved how he nurtured Mother Earth, and everybody knows about the Chipko movement. Due to his love for trees and nature an instant bond blossomed between him and children,” said Pramod, who, in association with Sunderlal Bahuguna, had struggled to get heritage status for 30 trees in Chandigarh.

Environmentalist and Chipko movement pioneer Sunderlal Bahuguna died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikesh on Friday after battling Covid-19 for several days. He was 94.

A pall of gloom descended in City Beautiful Friday as people recalled how actively he had participated in the attempt to preserve the trees of Chandigarh.

Pramod, founder of NGO Yuvsatta, recalls, “On November 29, 2010, during one of his interactions with young students, I remember how he, when informed about the plight of trees with iron shackles in Sector 17 plaza, immediately asked me to take him there.”

“The next day, it was in the papers and within 24 hours, all iron grills were removed from the trees of Sector 17 plaza. Same way we struggled with the local administration for almost a decade to get 100-year-old trees heritage status. He (Bahuguna) went with us to see the Banyan tree behind the inter-state bus stand of Sector 17. This tree, with a diameter of approximately 11 feet, was in bad shape, with edge to edge road carpeting and its branches cut to accommodate ISBT’s buildings,” he added.

In 2001, a conference on ‘Need for Afro-Asian Dialogue’ was organised in Panjab University and a report on the same was published in a book. The foreword of this book was written by Bahuguna, in which he emphasized that Mahatma Gandhi’s work in both Asia and Africa is yet unfinished and both these continents face the challenge of realising the dreams of Mahatma.

“For the last one week, we were constantly in touch with his wife Vimla and were quite hopeful that he will recover. But god had other plans. In Sunderlal Bahuguna, Mother Earth lost a dear son, who stood guard to save its natural resources,” said Pramod.

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