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 The Chipko Movement 

Date of Publish - Friday, 7th June 2019

In the late 1970, when deforestation by the government in the name of dams and sustainable development was at its peak, common people from the Himalayas, in villages of upper Alakananda realized the massive impact it was making on their lives and lifestyle. This triggered the spark in 1973, when spontaneously, a group of people resisted the cutting of trees in the above mentioned areas. Eventually,this movement spread to areas of Uttar Pradesh and some well known leaders like Sundar Lal Bahuguna rose up to popularity and organized the whole protest. Under the backing of an NGO known as Dasoli Gram Swarajya Sangh, a group of women started encircling trees and preventing men from cutting them down.


The community resorted to making the movement a tree-hugging event so as to keep it non-violent and yet to achieve their purpose. Surprisingly, during an era when women were so highly suppressed, this movement saw and attracted an active participation from the ladies of the society.


Initially, the activists wanted a closure of the limestone mining activity in the Doon valley, which had seen a large scale loss of the flora and fauna ever since its establishment. Later it was purposed as a protest again the construction of the Tehri Dam across the Baghirathi River and went on at a full-fledged rate for almost two decades. Later, it turned into a Save the Seed movement, and has continued until today.


Chipko in Hindi stands for "sticking to something", implying the whole purpose of this movement was to stick to any trees that were being cut down either by hugging or encircling. The famous slogan that was coined by Sundar Lal Bahuguna was "ecology is a permanent economy". This movement literally stopped all the non-environment  friendly practices like mining, cutting down trees for timber, firewood etc, depleting the forest cover in the name of industries, dams etc. Having seen that the government left their concern unanswered, the villagers decided to take serious steps by themselves and thus started sticking themselves to the trees.


Not just that this movement was widespread across the northern states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand  etc, but over time its contemporary revolt widely known as the Appiko movement was started the the common men of southern states like Karnataka to protect the felling of trees on the western slopes of the subcontinent. This movement has been widely recognized, appreciated and honored by international institutions of utmost high reputation such as the United Nations. It has been so successful that two of its important leaders were awarded the Ramon Magsaysay   and the Padma Vibhushan awards. Huge amounts of respect to the nature-loving community of these areas for their utmost dedication and concern for the wildlife and protecting the natural habitat of the endangered species. Such little efforts by every individual can make the earth a better place to live in.


Author :
Grace Serraon


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