Lamenting that Himalayas were “dying” due to large-scale deforestation caused by commercial activities, noted activist Sunderlal Bahuguna on Thursday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately address the problem and even suggested setting up of separate ministry for them.

“Himalayas which provide oxygen to India and other nations situated in its foothills are dying because of rampant commercial activities in the name of faulty development process borrowed from the West,” Mr. Bahuguna, who shot into fame with ‘Chipko Andolan’, told reporters here.

He cited examples of setting up of cement factories, thermal power plants and dams in the Himalayan regions which generate a lot of pollution in addition to displacing locals to highlight ongoing “defective” development process.

Mr. Bahuguna, who got Padam Bhushan award this year, said he had urged the PM for formulating a separate policy for Himalayan regions in 2004 and reminded him about it when he had gone to receive the award in January this year.

Mr. Bahuguna had returned Padam Shri earlier in 1981 on the same issue.

In reply to a question whether if he favoured a separate ministry in the Union government for Himalayan regions, the Chipko movement leader appealed to the politicians of the area to strive for it.

Mr. Bahuguna said he has launched an awareness drive under the banner of ‘Himalaya Niti Abhiyan’ in the Himalayan regions for their protection and met HP CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and Speaker Tulsi Ram in this regard this morning.