Chipko Movement in India
WHAT IS CHIPKO MOVEMENT ?
Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan is a non-violencenary movement inspired by Satyagraha, that aimed the protection of trees and forest to conclude the deforestation from the rural areas located at the foothills of Himalayan region. Chipko movement had occurred on April 1973 in the village Mandal in Uttar Pradesh in the upper Alakananda Valley and later expanded to the other Himalayan districts.
This thoughtful and encouraging movement was started by an eco-activist named Sundarlal Bahuguna who spent his entire life to persuade and educate the rural people to stand against the destruction of forest and Himalayan mountains.
Chipko historians explained that the term was originally used by Chandi Prasad Bhatt as “Argalwatha” which was in Garhwali language (local language)that means “Embrace”. Later this term converted into Hindi language as “Chipko” which means “To Stick” or “To Hug”.
In this movement, the women in this place empowered themselves and stand against the skilled and semi-skilled wood-cutters by hugging the trees for days. Their strapping slogan was “Ecology is the permanent Economy “motivated the people tremendously at that time to stand against the deforestation.
MOST JUSTIFIED REASON BEHIND THE CHIPKO MOVEMENT :
In 1963 AD, after the Sino-Indian border conflict, the nearer states Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand etc. came to accept a growth in development in rural areas and that increased the deforestation rate in Himalayan regions. The government also had cut down many trees for the sports equipment and also in urbanization process.
Due to these growing reasons there was huge increase in the illegal logging in nearby forests. For these increased rate of deforestation it brought many of the problems including Flood, Desertification, Soil Erosion for the people who were living in these regions. These were the most justified reasons behind the Chipko movement.
At that time Chandi prasad Bhatt, a social worker inspired by Sarvodaya Movement, founded a cooperative organization that was “Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh” later called as “Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal” (DGSM) worked for the rural peoples’ survival for life. This Mandal aimed to set up small industries using the recourses from the near by forest in a very low amount.
Their first project was a small workshop making farm tools for the local use. The females of the sites were directly involved in this work and they were also aware of importance Ecosystem and Environment.
During this time, to improvise the modernity and to become commercially successful, the Himalayan mountains along with the forests were given to many contractors to modify it into modernity and urbanize the place.
The government was so merged in its benefit by using the forest area and mountains that they even did not think about people living in those area and their existence.
This type of irresponsible thought towards deforestation ruined much of the forest cover, which afterwards brought a huge and hazardous flood in the river of Alakananda in July 1970. This flood was so powerful that it affected near about 320 Kilometers, from Badrinath to Haridwar and washed away many villages, bridges and roads etc.
All these things brought consciousness among the people and they organized themselves under several small groups. Later in 1973, when the wood cutters came to cut down trees, referred by the forest department, all the men and women in the village contributed themselves to protect the trees by hugging them for many days.
MAIN LEADERS OF CHIPKO MOVEMENT :
As Chipko was a social movement ,some volunteers like Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sundarlal Bahuguna,Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Neji, Shamsher Singh Bisht, Ghanashyam Raturi (the chipko poet), were the pioneer of it.
As it was a eco feminist movement, many women like Gaura Devi, Suraksha Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi, Viruska Devi etc. also became main participants of the Chipko Movement. All they wanted and demanded was no forest exploitation contracts for the out siders and the local government should be implicit control over the natural recourses like forest, land, water etc.
They also wanted the government to supply low cost raw materials to the small industries and make successful development of the region without interrupting the ecological balance.
In the year 1977 AD, the village females tied sacred thread called as “Rakhi” around the trees which was taken as the promise to save the trees at any cost.
CONSEQUENCES OF CHIPKO MOVEMENT :
The result of Chipko movement was wide ranged as it brought awareness among the people throughout the country for the balance of ecosystem , biodiversity, forestation etc. It helps to rethink about the conservation and preservation of forest as the vital natural resources, participation of local people in the efficient management of forest, utilization of forest materials by the village communities.
However as the consequences, Chipko Movement soon reached the state capital, where the state chief minister, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna set up a committee to examine the whole matter. But the real success came into force when Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, issued ban on felling of trees in the Himalayan regions in 1980 AD for fifteen years until the green cover was fully restored.
SIMILAR MOVEMENTS :
There are some similar movements those occurred before and after Chipko movement mentioned below :
In Prassanna Khamkar village of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, a Chipko-type movement was taken by 363 Bishnois from 84 villages led by Amrita Devi, sacrificed their lives to save Khejri trees. Chipko movement later on inspired by this movement.
Appiko movement in 1983 was led by Panduranga Hegde in Karnataka occurred to protect trees in Western Ghats and Vindhyas.
MAJOR YEARS RELATED TO CHIPKO MOVEMENT :
In 1973 AD : Chipko movement happened
In 1980 AD : The government issued ban on deforestation for 15 years
In 1981-83 AD : The leader Sundarlal Bahuguna marched 5000 KM in the Trans Himalayan areas to spread Chipko movement.
In 1982 AD :Chandi Prasad Bhatt was awarded the ‘Ramon Magsaysay Award‘ for community leadership.
In 1987 AD :Chipko movement was awarded the “Right Livelihood Award” for the dedication to the conservation, restoration and ecologically sound use of natural resources of India.
In 2009 AD :Sundarlal Bahugan was awarded the “Padma Vibhushan” for his enormous contribution to the Indian ecological scenario.
On 26 March 2018 : On the 45th anniversary, Chipko movement conservation initiative was marked by Google Doodle.
Chipko movement was a non-violent agitation inspired by Satyagraha Movement of Mahatma Gandhi, aimed the protection and conservation of trees. But it is best remembered for the collective mobilization of women that leads a change in attitude regarding their own status in society.
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