'Message of his life more relevant now than ever': Sonia condoles Sunderlal Bahuguna's demise

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New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday condoled the demise of noted environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna, describing him as an influential campaigner for the protection of the Himalayan ecosystem.

Bahuguna died on Friday after Covid complications. He was 94.

In her condolence message, Gandhi said he not only championed the protection of trees, forests, soil, rivers and biodiversity, but also the livelihoods of the millions of people living in the Himalayan region.

'I was saddened to learn of the passing away of India's legendary environmentalist Sunderlal Bahugunaji. For almost six decades he had been an indefatigable and influential campaigner for the protection of the Himalayan ecosystem,' she said.

'A remarkable personality in what he said and did as also how he said and did, the message of Sunderlal Bahugunaji's life is all the more relevant now more than ever before,' she also said.

She said Bahuguna led many agitations that sensitised governments on the ecological consequences of constructing large dams like Tehri.

'A true Gandhian in every way and a close associate of the Mahatma's disciple Mira Behn, Sunderlal Bahugunaji also drew the admiration of Indira Gandhi who herself was a passionate naturalist. In June 1981, he launched a 4000-km Kashmir to Kohima padyatra to heighten public consciousness of environmental issues,' she said.

The Congress chief recalled that on October 17, 1981, Indira Gandhi sent him a message highlighting that the thoughtless felling of trees is posing serious problems for the entire nation and that the increase in floods and silting of rivers are the direct consequences of forest denudation and people must wake up to this danger.

'Sunderlal Bahugunaji was an inspiration to thousands of youth who took up the cause of environmental protection in the 1980s. India has a very vibrant civil society network active in the field of environment, forests and climate change and one person who has contributed much to making this network what it is was Sunderlal Bahugunaji,' Gandhi said. PTI SKC TIR TIR