The “Chipko Movement” or the “Chipko Andolan” was first initiated in India in 1970. Interestingly, this movement was launched by villagers who strongly felt the need to protect their trees and forests. At that time, the government had ordered for large-scale deforestation and logging. This order had worried and angered the villagers who did not want to destroy their environment.
Quick Summary Leading to Chipko Movement
Launched first in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district in 1973, this movement soon spread to the entire Himalayan region. Literally, “Chipko” means “to hug” or “to embrace.” In this non-violent movement, the activists would hug the trees and refuse to budge until the loggers backed off. This helped prevent the trees from being cut.
Sunderlal Bahuguna, a noted environmentalist, is credited to spread this movement. Something similar to the Chipko movement had first taken place in 1730 AD in Rajasthan, where a woman named Amrita Devi had led a similar movement.
- In 1973, the first Chipko movement took place in a village called Mandal. The villagers had needed access to a small number of trees but were denied the same. It angered them when the same government sanctioned the cutting of trees on a much larger area.
- Led by Chandi Prasad Bhatt, the villagers hugged the trees to prevent deforestation. Finally, the government cancelled the permit.
- In 1974, the government had announced to auction off around 2000 trees located near the village Reni in Uttarakhand. Men and women gathered in a peaceful assembly to protest against this decision.
- Gaurvi Devi, the head of the Mahila Mangal Dal, led a group of 27 women to the location and started hugging the trees when the loggers did not back down.
- This continued through the night and the loggers eventually left, as they were not able to do anything.
- This incident’s report soon went up to the then Chief Minister, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna. He set up a committee to look into the matter and eventually ruled in favour of the villagers.
- As this event had overwhelming female participation, it began to emerge as a movement by women for forest rights. Such people followed the Gandhian principles and practised Satyagraha as well.
Chipko Movement – The Need for Today
It is no secret that we have managed to damage the environment. In the past 30 years, over 24,000 industrial projects have caused deforestation and logging on a massive scale. This is going to affect air quality and ultimately, choke all urban people.
Today, we need environmental activists who will stop the unnecessary cutting of trees just to facilitate projects and feed money-hungry people.