Chipko Movement - A Major Environmental Movement in India

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Chipko Movement - A Major Environmental Movement in India

The environment plays a very important role in the overall development of a human being. The atmosphere around us will be responsible for our health. Maintaining a good environment around us is very important. The word nature gives us a relaxed feeling irrespective of any sort of tensions. A whole lot of greenery comes into our mind when we think about nature. This greenery symbolizes peacefulness. In the ancient times, people lived in the forest where they use to nurture different kind of plants around their place. They were worshiping nature as God. They were spending their time growing different kinds of plants. Living in an atmosphere which has greenery gives pleasure to the body as well as to the soul.

But today, we come across many instances where the trees are cut for human convenience. Trees are cut to broaden the road, to accommodate metro construction and other selfish reasons. This is not the issue of today. The environment is facing this issue since many years. Many environmental activists have tried their best and are still trying to protect the environment. Here is one such major movement which took place in India for the conservation of Trees and Environment.

1. Chipko Movement:

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 The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan was a forest conservation movement started in the year 1973 in Uttar Pradesh now in Uttarakhand by an environmental activist Sundarlal Bahuguna. This was an environmental movement where people hugged the trees to prevent them from being cut. This movement was inspired by an early revolution called Bishnoi movement that took place in 1730 AD in Khejarli, Marwar region in Rajasthan when 363 Bishnoi villagers led by a female villager called Amrita Devi sacrificed their lives to save sacred trees from being cut down by the king’s soldiers for a new palace.


The Bishnoi Movement

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This inspired movement became a rallying point for many future environmental movements all over the world. It created a sensation for nonviolent protest in India. Its movement inspired many eco-groups and helped to slow down the rapid deforestation, increased ecological awareness and demonstrated the viability of people power. This movement followed the method of satyagraha where both male and female activists from Uttarakhand played vital roles. Some of the activists who joined their hands with Sundarlal Bahuguna were Gaura Devi, Suraksha Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi and Chandi Prasad Bhatt.


The leaders of Chipko Movement

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In the year 1987, the Chipko movement was awarded the "Right Livelihood Award" by the government of India. The struggle soon spread across many parts of the region. This spontaneous stand-offs between the local community and timber merchants occurred at several locations, with the local people demonstrating their new-found power as non-violent activists. As the movement gathered shape under its leaders, the name Chipko movement was given to their activities. According to Chipko historians, the term originally used was the word "angalwaltha" in the Garhwali language for "embrace", which later was adapted to the Hindi word, Chipko, which means to stick. Over the next five years, the movement spread to many districts in the region, and within a decade throughout the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Over time, as a United Nations Environment Programme report mentioned, Chipko activists started "working a socio-economic revolution by winning control of their forest resources from the hands of a distant bureaucracy which is only concerned with the selling of forestland for making urban-oriented products". The Chipko movement became a benchmark for socio-ecological movements in other forest areas. This movement is still doing its job until today. But unfortunately, it is not getting the required support for the respectful authorities.

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There has been many movements which were inspired by the Chipko movement and have contributed towards the conservation of environment. One such movement was Appiko Chaluvali in Karnataka.


Appiko chaluvali:

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Appiko Chaluvali or Appiko Movement is an inspirational movement from Sundarlal Bahuguna's Chipko Movement. In Kannada "Appiko" means "to embrace" or "Hug". This movement started in Gubbi Gadde, a small village near Sirsi in the North Karnataka (Uttara Kannada) district. This movement has forced the forest department to change the forest policy on deforestation. Besides affecting the forest policy, it also spread to other parts and saved forests. On 8th September 1983, this movement was started by an environmental activist named Pandurang Hegde. He was inspired by Sunderlal Bahugana's Chipko movement in Uttar Pradesh, in which villagers used to hug trees to save them from being cut by the State. Appiko movement started against monoculture practice i. e the agricultural practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area in the western ghats. Today, it has become a part of the lives of people. This non-violent protest has made the forest department to bring out the policy against deforestation in the eco-sensitive region. There has been a silent revolution in the Western Ghats from this Appiko Chaluvali. Started in Sirsi, the Appiko movement spread across the Western Ghats, including in places outside Karnataka. By linking up, campaigners managed to build awareness to conserve the sensitive environment in this region. Appiko is seen by some as a kind of echo of the more prominent Chipko movement of north India. The western Ghat biodiversity includes 120,000 living species, 4,500 flowering plants, 500 species of birds, 120 species of mammals, 160 species of reptiles, 70 species of frogs, 800 species of fish and 1493 species of medicinal plants.


Even though Appiko chaluvali was not so effective compared to Chipko movement, it gave its honest contribution towards the environment.

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