What is Chipko Movement?
Just imagine earth without trees? Simple, life will end because trees play a vital role in human’s life, it balances oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and gives oxygen which human beings depend upon to survive. Peoples’ greed for monetary gain has led to a senseless felling of tress which is causing serious health and environmental hazard. Healthy life needs healthy environment and being knowledgeable about issues relating to environment and its conservation plays a huge role in supporting the cause of saving the tress from felling, which in other words is a way of keeping oneself fit and healthy. In India a pioneering movement to safe guard the trees from felling was started under the “Chipko Movement”. It has contributed hugely in furthering environmental activism.
When did the Chipko Movement get started?
This Chipko Movement was started by group of villagers in Uttrakhand who opposed the cutting of trees. It is the first organised movement started in April 1972 to protect the trees against the commercial Forest Policy. Though this Chipko movement gained its prominence in 1970s, the real movement occurred in 1604, when a large number of villagers (from the Bishnoi community) embraced the trees in a forest (near Khejri village, close to Jodhpur) and prevented the king’s soldiers from cutting them down. The angered Jodhpur king ordered the soldiers to kill the Bishnois, while cutting down the trees, and as a result around 363 people lost their lives trying to protect their beloved Khejri trees (which are regarded as gods of the desert). That event has been recorded in Indian history as the Chipko Movement. Thus started, the Chipko Movement has now gained great significance throughout the world's conservationist circle for its successful attempts against deforestation. “Chipko” in local dialect means “to embrace” and refers to the method that has been applied to protect the forest from the commercial timber cutters. This revolutionary movement started by the villagers to save forests from deforestation soon got worldwide support and attention. Chipko Movement was very successful in influencing policy both at center and state level. The participants in Chipko Movement were primarily small town women who fought for their bread and communities, these women were determined to protect the forests from deforestation even at the cost of their lives. Gradually men also were involved in the Chipko Movement.
What is the current day impact of Chipko Movement?
Forest is an asset that provides survival for many Indian villagers where it is not merely in terms of fulfilling their basic needs but also in terms of livelihood. So when trees were felled indiscriminately for commercial and industrial purposes, villagers sought to protect their forests by following the Gandhian method of Satyagraha by hugging the trees when the axe man comes to cut it.
The fact that the villagers undertook to guard the forests from felling also side by side planting the saplings for the coming generations at the cost of their lives made Chipko Movement a worldwide phenomenon. When people questioned the villagers about their action, the villagers are known to have replied that if they plant a tree now it will bear fruits after many years where their children and grandchildren would eat its fruits even if they are no more. When it comes to understanding the Chipko Movement, women of Uttrakhand village would know it perfectly because this has been the way of looking at their forest which supports their lives, and so their sentiments will always be attached to Chipko movement.
Chipko Movement leader like Mr Sundarlal Bahuguna believed that, “Ecology is the permanent economy” and all his life he taught the villagers to protest against the destruction of the forest. There are many movements that formed to save natural resources inspired by Chipko Movement in India and abroad.
In the 1970s, The Chipko movement was taken place in the northern Himalayan segment of Uttar Pradesh. Where it started, that well-known area names as Uttarakhand.
The word “Chipko” means that “to stick” or “to hug”.
The Chipko movement name comes from the word meaning “Embrace”. It is the significant meaning, which describes that how much village people loves and hug to the trees.
It is most important for the villagers to save the trees from felling. It interposes their bodies between them and the contractor’s axes.
Why Chipko movement starts
The trees were one of the most pressing need of the Uttarakhand people and to save the trees from destructing, they have begun the Chipko movement, and it became popular in Uttarakhand. Chipko movement is a grassroots level of action.
- A large number of trees was getting destroyed by the massive depletion of forests, which results in destruction.
- Significant damage is that there was arid-making of the Himalayan mountain range barren.
- Another destruction of the trees is that construction of dams, factories and roads had already led to deforestation.
Who starts the Chipko Movement?
The Chipko movement was initiated by the Sundarlal Bahuguna with a group of volunteers and women to make the non-violent protest by clinging to the trees to save them from falling.
The Sundarlal Bahuguna belonged from the renowned Gandhian.
Objectives of the Chipko Movement
There is much importance of the Chipko movement, from when it starts; it became the great movement for the Uttarakhand villager’s people.
The primary objectives of the Chipko movement were to ensure an ecological balance and the survival of the tribal people, who are totally depending on the trees because their economic activities revolved around these forests.
After seeing all that, the Sundarlal Bahuguna has appealed to the Mahatma Gandhi to ban the green felling.
Messages of Chipko movement
The Chipko movement starts to spread the word for makes the Greenland by the 5000kms Trans-Himalaya foot march in 1981-1983.
“Ecology is permanent economy” is the great slogan of the Sundarlal Bahuguna.
The forest is the local benefit of the people because it conserves and sustains of the people, it says by one of the earliest Chipko activists, whose name was Chandi Prasad Bhatt.
To start the “Chipko Embrace”, Dhoom Singh Negi, with Bachni Devi and many village women, first saved trees by hugging them.
The most beautiful Chipko poet was composed by the Ghanshyam Raturi, which is
“What do the forests bear” soil, water, and pure air.”
This song echo throughout the Himalayas of Uttar Pradesh and Indu Tilekar, a doctor of philosophy, who’s spiritual discourse throughout India on the ancient Sanskrit scriptures and comparative religion, has stressed the unity and oneness of life.
Make to the Chipko movement, part of this context, and there are other prominent leaders of the movement.
Actions of Chipko movement
- In the April 1973, in the village of Mandal in the upper Alaknanda valley, the first Chipko movement action took place.
- Over the Uttar Pradesh districts, it was spread too in the next five years, and this decision has made by the government for allotting the forest area in the Alaknanda valley to a sports goods company.
- The villagers are so angered just because they were not getting the agricultural tools and it is a demand of them to use wood for making tools.
- They have encouraged for it by the NGO (Non-Government Organization), DGSS (Dasoli Gram Swarajya Sangh), the Chandi Prasad Bhatt was the leader of activist and women of the era.
- They went into the forest and formed a circle the trees securing men from cutting them down.
- The Uttarakhand region is a highly remote area due to its precipitous slopes, with thin and fragile soils.
- The area highly resourced with abundant water resources and forests. The people living in this region are farmers, whose primary occupations are terrace cultivation and animal husbandry.
- The extensive network of roads, which have built after the Indo-Chinese border conflict, made accessibility to this region easier.
Reasons to start Chipko movement
As a result, the Uttarakhand region, which is known for rich minerals, soils, and forests, attracted many entrepreneurs. Soon the area became the object of exploitation by these entrepreneurs.
- Some products for which the region exploited were timber, limestone, magnesium, potassium, etc. The primary source of conflicts in this region was the exploitation of the forests by the entrepreneurs with the approval of the government.
- The other reason for such conflicts was that the villagers earlier denied the use of forests.
- The streamlined policies did not allow the local agriculturists and herders to cut the trees for fuel wood or fodder and certain other purposes.
- Instead, they told that dead trees and fallen branches would serve their needs. The agriculturists or herders could cut trees only for the construction of houses and for making implements.
- The policies were reframed, claiming that the overuse and misuse of the forests were causing deforestation.
- Moreover, the timber and charcoal contractors conspired among themselves and blamed the local people for deforestation.
- The villagers, with the help of social workers, established labour and small-scale producer cooperatives, which aimed at allowing the local population to share the benefits of development.
- There continued long arguments between the villagers, timber contractors, social workers, and the personnel of the forest department.
- The first spark of the movement started in 1972 at Gopeshwar in Chamoli district when a local co-operative not given permission to cut 12 ash trees for the purpose of building houses and for tool-making.
- Instead, the government sold the ash trees to a sports goods manufacturing company for the purpose of making bats and tennis rackets.
- The villagers appeal to the government went in vain. In protest, the villagers adopted a non-violent method, and they stuck themselves to the trees to protect them from being felled.
- The villagers were successful in their effort, and the government cancelled the permit given to the sports goods manufacturing company.
- Such other incidents have become successful, and the movement soon spread to other areas.
- The Chipko activists formed into groups and campaigned from village to village and informed people about the purpose and importance of motion.
- The movement has been diversifying its activities. It is now collecting funds to take up research on the issues of forests, soil, and water conservation.
Achievements by Chipko protest
The Chipko protests in Uttar Pradesh achieved a major victory in 1980 with a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests of that state by order of Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. Since then, the movement has spread to many countries in the country.
In addition to the 15-year ban in Uttar Pradesh, felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas has stopped.
It has also generated pressure for a natural resource policy that is more sensitive to peoples, needs and ecological requirements.
Thus, the Chipko Movement is a significant environmental movement, which has gained considerable popularity and success by adopting a Gandhian non-violent method. The move paved the way for many such environmental changes in the country.