Sunderlal Bahuguna
(1927-)

Indian Environmental Activist, Ghandian Peaceworker
1987 Right Livelihood Award Winner

birthdate: January 9
birthplace:
village Maroda in Tehri, India

Sunderlal Bahuguna is an Indian eco-activist and Gandhian peace worker, who has been one of the leaders of the Chipko movement, fighting for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas. Chipko means 'embrace' or 'tree huggers' and this vast movement has been a decentralized one with many leaders, usually village women, who have worked to protect the environment. Often they would chain themselves to trees so that loggers could not cut down the forests. These actions slowed down the destruction, but more importantly they brought the deforestation to the public's attention. In 1981 to 1983 Sunderlal Bahuguna led a 5000 kilometer march across the Himalayas ending with a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who then passed legislation to protect some areas of the Himalayan forests from clear-cutting. Sunderlal Bahuguna was also a leader in the movement to oppose the Tehri dam project and in defending India's rivers, and has also worked for women's rights and rights of the poor. In the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, his work for change has always been done through peaceful resistance and other nonviolent methods. The Chipko Movement received the 1987 Right Livelihood Award, also referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize, "...for its dedication to the conservation, restoration and ecologically-sound use of India's natural resources.

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