tish occupied the Kumaon region as well as much of the Garhwal territory. Garhwal was divided in two; the eastern portion directly under British control and the western part became a princely State known as Tehri Garhwal. With the British, came the industrial revolution to India. The British quickly found that the chir-pines in the lower elevations would not be suitable for the much needed railway sleepers, so they turned their gaze upwards into the higher elevations of the mountains. Here they found the deodar tree. These trees provided the British occupants with an excellent wood that was well suited for railway sleepers. Unfortunately this tree is very slow growing and quite difficult to propagate. As India's transportation networks expanded and the natural resources located in the Himalayas proved to be financially rewarding for outside settlers, new locations and methods were now needed to meet the timber requirements of these pressures. A new technique of floating timber down the Ganges had allowed axe men to travel deep into previously untouched locations to meet the railways needs. With the expansion of the rail and roadway systems deeper into the Himalayas, and with no real legislation to stand in their way, entrepreneurs were now wiping out entire forests to meet the demand of the needs of import into Britain as well as the needs of the railway and population expansion in India.
In order to comprehend how these actions directly affected the native people living there, it is important to fully understand the role of the forests in supplying the local population's daily physical and spiritual needs. You must also understand the ecological and social systems that were well entrenched at local levels to ensure for not only the survival of these forests, but methods that ensured these forests were as healthy and productive as possible.
The native people of the Himalayas have long understood the importance of utEssays Related to The Chipko Movement
Villagers surrounding a tree to stop it from being felled
The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan (literally "to cling" in Hindi ) is a social-ecological movement that practised the Gandhian methods of satyagraha and non-violent resistance, through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled. The modern Chipko movement started in the early 1970s in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand. [ 1 ] with growing awareness towards rapid deforestation. The landmark event in this struggle took place on March 26, 1974, when a group of peasant women in Reni village, Hemwalghati, in Chamoli district. Uttarakhand. India, acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights that were threatened by the contractor system of the state Forest Department. Their actions inspired hundreds of such actions at the grassroots level throughout the region. By the 1980s the movement had spread throughout India and led to formulation of people-sensitive forest policies, which put a stop to the open felling of trees in regions as far reaching as Vindhyas and the Western Ghats. [ 2 ]
The first recorded event of Chipko however, took place in village Khejarli. Jodhpur district. in 1730 AD, when 363 Bishnois. led by Amrita Devi sacrificed their lives while protecting green Khejri trees, considered sacred by the community, by hugging them, and braved the axes of loggers sent by the local ruler, [ 3 ] today it is seen an inspiration and a precursor for Chipko movement of Garhwal. [ 4 ] [ 5 ]
The Chipko movement, though primarily a livelihood movement rather than a forest conservation movement, went on to become a rallying point for many future environmentalists, environmental protests and movements the world over and created a precedent for non-violent protest. [ 6 ] [ 7 ] It occurred at a time when there was hardly any environmental movement in the developing world, and its success meant that the world immediately took notice of this non-violent Tree hugging movement . which was to inspire in time many such eco-groups by helping to slow down the rapid deforestation, expose vested interests, increase ecological awareness, and demonstrate the viability of people power. Above all, it stirred up the existing civil society in India, which began to address the issues of tribal and marginalized people. So much so that, a quarter of a century later, India Today mentioned the people behind the "forest satyagraha" of the Chipko movement as amongst "100 people who shaped India". [ 8 ] Today, beyond the eco-socialism hue, it is being seen increasingly as an ecofeminism movement. Although many of its leaders were men, women were not only its backbone, but also its mainstay, because they were the ones most affected by the rampant deforestation, [ citation needed ]. which led to a lack of firewood and fodder as well as water for drinking and irrigation. Over the years they also became primary stakeholders in a majority of the afforestation work that happened under the Chipko movement. [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ]
Trees are for HuggingContents History
The Himalayan region had always been exploited for its natural wealth, be it minerals or timber, including under British rule. The end of the nineteenth century saw the implementation of new approaches in forestry, coupled with reservation of forests for commercial forestry, causing disruption in the age-old symbiotic relationship between the natural environment and th od were crushed severely. Notable protests in 20th century, were that of 1906, followed by the 1921 protest which was linked with the independence movement imbued with Gandhian ideologies. [ 12 ] The 1940s was again marked by a series of protests in Tehri Garhwal region. [ 13 ]
In the post-independence period, when waves of a resurgent India were hitting even the far reaches of India, the landscape of the upper Himalayan region was only slowly changing, and remained largely inaccessible. But all this was to change soon, when an important event in the environmental history of the Garhwal region occurred in the India-China War of 1962, in which India faced heavy losses. Though the region was not involved in the war directly, the government, cautioned by its losses and war casualties, took rapid steps to secure its borders, set up army bases, and build road networks deep into the upper reaches of Garhwal on India’s border with Chinese-ruled Tibet, an area which was until now all but cut off from the rest of the nation. However, with the construction of roads and subsequent developments came mining projects for limestone, magnesium, and potassium. Timber merchants and commercial foresters now had access to land hitherto. [ 12 ]
Soon, the forest cover started deteriorating at an alarming rate, resulting in hardships for those involved in labour-intensive fodder and firewood collection. This also led to a deterioration in the soil conditions, and soil erosion in the area as the water sources dried up in the hills. Water shortages became widespread. Subsequently, communities gave up raising livestock, which added to the problems of malnutrition in the region. This crisis was heightened by the fact that forest conservation policies, like the Indian Forest Act, 1927. traditionally restricted the access of local communities to the forests, resulting in scarce farmlands in an over- populated and extremely poor area, despite all of its natural wealth. Thus the sharp decline in the local agrarian economy lead to a migration of people into the plains in search of jobs, leaving behind several de-populated villages in the 1960s. [ 6 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ]
Gradually a rising awareness of the ecological crisis, which came from an immediate loss of livelihood caused by it, resulted in the growth of political activism in the region. The year 1964 saw the establishment of Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS) (“Dasholi Society for Village Self-Rule” ), set up by Gandhian social worker, Chandi Prasad Bhatt in Gopeshwar, and inspired by Jayaprakash Narayan and the Sarvodaya movement, with an aim to set up small industries using the resources of the forest. Their first project was a small workshop making farm tools for local use. Its name was later changed to Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS) from the original Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal (DGSM) in the 1980s. Here they had to face restrictive forest policies, a hangover of colonial era still prevalent, as well as the "contractor system", in which these pieces of forest land were commodified and auctioned to big contractors, usually from the plains, who brought along their own skilled and semi-skilled laborers, leaving only the menial jobs like hauling rocks for the hill people, and paying them next to nothing. On the other hand, the hill regions saw an influx of more people from the outside, which only added to the already strained ecological balance. [ 15 ]
Hastened by increasing hardships, the Garhwal Himalayas soon became the centre for a rising ecological awareness of how reckless deforestation had denuded much of the forest cover, resulting in the devastating Alaknanda River floods of July 1970, when a major landslide blocked the river and effected an area starting from Hanumanchatti, near Badrinath to 350 km downstream till Haridwar. further numerous villages, bridges and roads were washed away. Thereafter, incidences of landslides and land subsidence became common in an area which was experiencing a rapid increase in civil engineering projects. [ 16 ] [ 17 ]
"Maatu hamru, paani hamru, hamra hi chhan yi baun bhi. Pitron na lagai baun, hamunahi ta bachon bhi "
Soil ours, water ours, ours are these forests. Our forefathers raised them, it’s we who must protect them.
-- Old Chipko Song (Garhwali language) [ 18 ]
Soon villagers, especially women, started organizing themselves under several smaller groups, taking up local causes with the authorities, and standing up against commercial logging operations that threatened their livelihoods. In October 1971, the Sangh workers held a demonstration in Gopeshwar to protest against the policies of the Forest Department. More rallies and marcheAftermath
The news soon reached the state capital. where then state Chief Minister, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, set up a committee to look into the matter, which eventually ruled in favour of the villagers. This became a turning point in the history of eco-development struggles in the region and around the world.
The struggle soon spread across many parts of the region, and such spontaneous stand-offs between the local community and timber merchants occurred at several locations, with hill women demonstrating their new-found power as non-violent activists. As the movement gathered shape under its leaders, the name Chipko Movement was attached to their activities. According to Chipko historians, the term originally used by Bhatt was the word "angalwaltha" in the Garhwali language for "embrace", which later was adapted to the Hindi word, Chipko. which means to stick. [ 19 ]
Subsequently, over the next five years the movement spread to many districts in the region, and within a decade throughout the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Larger issues of ecological and economic exploitation of the region were raised. The villagers demanded that no forest-exploiting contracts should be given to outsiders and local communities should have effective control over natural resources like land, water, and forests. They wanted the government to provide low-cost materials to small industries and ensure development of the region without disturbing the ecological balance. The movement took up economic issues of landless forest workers and asked for guarantees of minimum wage. Globally Chipko demonstrated how environment causes, up until then considered an activity of the rich, were a matter of life and death for the poor, who were all too often the first ones to be devastated by an environmental tragedy. Several scholarly studies were made in the aftermath of the movement. [ 6 ] In 1977, in another area, women tied sacred threads, Rakhi [ disambiguation needed ]. around trees earmarked for felling in a Hindu tradition which signifies a bond between brother and sisters. [ 20 ]
Women’s participation in the Chipko agitation was a very novel aspect of the movement. The forest contractors of the region usually doubled up as suppliers of alcohol to men. Women held sustained agitations against the habit of alcoholism and broadened the agenda of the movement to cover other social issues. The movement achieved a victory when the government issued a ban on felling of trees in the Himalayan regions for fifteen years in 1980 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. until the green cover was fully restored. [ 21 ] One of the prominent Chipko leaders, Gandhian Sunderlal Bahuguna, took a 5,000-kilometre trans-Himalaya foot march in 1981–83, spreading the Chipko message to a far greater area. [ 22 ] Gradually, women set up cooperatives to guard local forests, and also organized fodder production at rates conducive to local environment. Next, they joined in land rotation schemes for fodder collection, helped replant degraded land, and established and ran nurseries stocked with species they selected. [ 23 ]Participants
Surviving participants of the first all-woman Chipko action at Reni village in 1974 on left jen wadas, reassembled thirty years later.
One of Chipko's most salient features was the mass participation of female villagers. [ 24 ] As the backbone of Uttarakhand's agrarian economy, women were most directly affected by environmental degradation and deforestation. and thus related to the issues most easily. How much this participation impacted or derived from the ideology of Chipko has been fiercely debated in academic circles. [ 25 ]
Despite this, both female and male activists did play pivotal roles in the movement including Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt. Sundarlal Bahuguna. Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Negi, Shamsher Singh Bisht and Ghanasyam Raturi, the Chipko poet, whose songs echo throughout the Himalayas. [ 22 ] Out of which, Chandi Prasad Bhatt was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982, [ 26 ] and Sundarlal Bahuguna was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2009.Legacy
In Tehri district, Chipko activists would go on to protest limestone mining in the Doon Valley (Dehra Dun) in the 1980s, as the movement spread through the Dehradun district. which had earlier seen devastation of its forest cover leading to heavy loss of flora and fauna. Finally quarrying was banned after years of agitation by Chipko activists, followed by a vast public drive for afforestation, which turned around the valley, just in time. Also in the 1980s, activists like Bahuguna protested against construction of the Tehri dam on the Bhagirathi River. which went on for the next two decades, before founding the Beej Bachao Andolan. the Save the Seeds movement, that continues to the present day.
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.". [ 2 ] [ 22 ] The Chipko movement became a benchmark for socio-ecological movements in other forest areas of Himachal Pradesh. Rajasthan and Bihar ; in September 1983, Chipko inspired a similar, Appiko movement in Karnataka state of India, where tree felling in the Western Ghats and Vindhyas was stopped. [ 22 ] In Kumaon region, Chipko took on a more radical tone, combining with the general movement for a separate Uttarakhand state, which was eventually achieved in 2000. [ 18 ] [ 22 ] [ 27 ]
In recent years, the movement not only inspired numerous people to work on practical programmes of water management, energy conservation, afforestation, and recycling, but also encouraged scholars to start studying issues of environmental degradation and methods of conservation in the Himalayas and throughout India. [ 28 ]
On March 26, 2004, Reni, Laata, and other villages of the Niti Valley celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Chipko Movement, where all the surviving original participants united. The celebrations started at Laata, the ancestral home of Gaura Devi, where Pushpa Devi, wife of late Chipko Leader Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Negi, Chipko leader of Henwalghati, Tehri Garhwal. and others were celebrated. From here a procession went to Reni, the neighbouring village, where the actual Chipko action took place on March 26, 1974. [ 29 ]Bibliography
Look at other dictionaries:
Chipko Movement — Gemeinsames Treffen von Bewegungsteilnehmerinnen von 1974 nach 30 Jahren Die Chipko Bewegung (Chipko Movement) war eine Bewegung von Dorfbewohnern – vor allem Frauen – in der Region Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal) in Indien, die sich gegen die… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Chipko-Bewegung — Gemeinsames Treffen von Bewegungsteilnehmerinnen von 1974 nach 30 Jahren Die Chipko Bewegung (Chipko Movement) war eine Bewegung von Dorfbewohnern – vor allem Frauen – in der Region Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal) in Indien, die sich gegen die… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Social Movement in India — From the early 1970 s new forms of social mobilisation began in India. They gain a variety of names like social movement people s movement popular movements etc. reference: chapter 7 ncert class 12 political science India after Independence [http … Wikipedia
Appiko movement — The Appiko movement was a revolutionary movement based on environmental conservation in India.The Chipko Andolan (Hug the Trees Movement) in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas inspired the villagers of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka Province… … Wikipedia
Women and the environment through history — Environmental history books have mostly focused on men’s roles, and generally women’s involvement with nature has been ignored. Even historical texts have been deficient in writing about women participation in environmentalist actions. So, the… … Wikipedia
Chandi Prasad Bhatt — Born June 23, 1934 (1934 06 23) (age 77) Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand, India Nationality Indian Occupation activist, Gandhian, environmentalist … Wikipedia
ecology and Hinduism — The beliefs and practices of Hinduism have been a resource in ecological and environmental move ments both within and outside India. Hindu reli gious stories, imagery, and symbolism are used to support the view that the universe is divine in… … Encyclopedia of Hinduism
Khejarli — or Khejadli is a village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, India. The name of the town is derived from Khejri (Prosopis cineraria) trees, which were in abundance in the village. In this village 363 Bishnois had to sacrifice their lives in 1730 AD … Wikipedia
Sundarlal Bahuguna — is a very noted activist and philosopher in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and an environmentalist who has fought for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas as a member of the Chipko movement. In Hindi, Chipko literally means to stick .… … Wikipedia
Dudi — or Dudee or Duddy or Dhuddy (Hindi: डूडी) is a gotra of Jats found in Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh in India as well as Pakistan. Dudi gotra is also found in Bhati Rajputs, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists and… … Wikipedia
On June 4, 2014 By Rahul Kakkar Category: Modern History of India
The first ‘Forest Act’ in India was enacted in 1927. Many provisions of that Act were inimical to the interests of the tribal and the common folk living in the forests. A big rally was held to protest against such issues at Tilari in 1930. The rally ended with the murder of 17 commoners by the Royal army. In 1949, the Tehri Garhwal region constituting part of Uttar Pradesh was annexed to the Indian federation. In remembrance of the 17 martyrs, May 30 is observed as the ‘Forest Day’ every year. The protests raised in 1930 gradually developed into a strong movement during the early 1970s. This movement came to be known as the ‘Chipko Movement’. The word ‘Chipko’ means ‘embracing’.
In 1961, Sarala Behn, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, took the initiative in forming the ‘Uttarakhand Sarbodaya Mondal’. People participating in constructive social work were getting involved in the struggle for protection of forests. On May 30, 1968 a large number of tribal men and women joined the Chipko struggle. They resisted the affluent contractors and the industrialists in their act of plundering the forests. Historic marches against the indiscriminate looting of forests were organized in Uttarkashi and Gopeswar on December 12 and 15 in 1972. In April 1973, when there was an attempt to fell the trees on a dark night, the tribal women resisted by embracing the trees like their own children. Women spent sleepless nights in guarding the trees. Some notable names of those who led the movement include, Sarala Behn, Mira Behn, Gopeswar, Sundarlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt. In March 1974, 27 tribal women under the leadership of Gouri Devi guarded the trees for many nights at a stretch. The important call that the struggle raised was that the original species-diversity of the forests must be left undisturbed; women must have the right to collect fodder and fuel-wood from the forests. It is so gratifying to note that it was the so-called illiterate tribal women who first came forward to demand the conservation of the environment. They did not demand the forests, but only urged for the natural growth and conservation of the forest resources.
It was in 1977 that some forests in the tribal areas of Narendranagar were put on auction for sale. The conservationists protested strongly. The women came forward to join the protests. Leadership came from Bachhni Devi, – the wife of a contractor. Trees were being guarded day and night by rotation. An unusually popular slogan was coined: “What do the forests bear? Soil, water and pure air’.
On 1 st February 1978, the contractor who bought the forest on auction came forward with two contingents of armed police to take up possession. The poor tribal were allured and tempted in various ways. Nevertheless, each tree was being guarded by a set of three women clinging to it. The contractor and the armed police were forced to retreat.
The assaults, however, continued and in fact were getting intensified. Sundarlal Bahuguna joined the fasting. Bahuguna was arrested on the eleventh day. Thousands of people rushed in on getting the news. The police force was compelled to retreat.
In conclusion, it is necessary to spell out, what precisely the Chipko Movement demanded? Are the forests to be left just as they are? No, the forests must not be seen only as places for plundering the natural resources. Just as forests offer teak and lac, the vegetation need to be conserved for the sake of water, soil and air. The movement only demanded the exercise of a sense of rationality in making use of the forests.
The intensity of the Chipko Movement drew the attention of the Central Government. The Prime Minister of India observed, ‘not a single tree in the Himalayan ranges in Uttar Pradesh should be touched for the next fifteen yeas’. The message of this movement spread out from the Himalayan forests in Uttar Pradesh to the rest of the world. The ‘Appico’ movement in south India drew its inspiration from the ‘Chipko’ movement.Related posts:
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4 The chipko movement
The chipko movement is historically, philosophically and organi sationally an extension of the traditional Gandhian satyagraha. Its special significance lies in the fact that it took place in post independent India. The continuity between the pre-independence and post-independence forms of this satyagraha has beer provided by Gandhians, including Sri Dev Suman, Mira Behn and Sarala Behn. Sri Dev Suman was initiated into Gandhian satyagraha at the time of the Salt Satyagraha. He died as a martyr for the cause of the Garhwali people's right to survive with dignity and freedom. Both Mira Behn and Sarala Behn were close associates of Gandhiji. They settled in the interior of the Himalayas and established ashrams. Sarala Behn settled in Kumaon, and Mira Behn lived in Garhwal till the time she left for Vienna due to ill health. Equipped with the Gandhian world view of development based on justice and ecological stability, they contributed silently to the growth of women power and ecological conscciousness in the hill areas o Uttar Pradesh. The influence of these two European disciples of Gandhiji on the heritage of struggle for social justice and ecological stability in the hills of Uttar Pradesh has been immense and they generated a new brand of Gandhian activists who provided the foundation for the Chipko movement. Sundarlal Bahuguna is prominent among the new generation of workers deeply inspired by these Gandhians. Influenced by Sri Dev Suman, he joined the independence movement at the age of 13. Later, he worked with Mira Behn in Bhilangana Valley and was trained in her ecological vision. In an article written in 1952, Mira Behn had stated that there was 'Something Wrong in the Himalaya.
Year after year the floods in the North of India seem to be getting worse, and this year they have been absolutely devastating. This means that there is something radically wrong in the Himalayas, and that 'something' is, without doubt, connected with the forests. It is not, I believe, just a matter of deforestation as some people think, but largely a matter of change of species.
Living in the Himalayas as I have been continuously now for several years, I have become painfully aware of a vital change in species of trees which is creeping up and up the southern slopes-those very slopes which let down the flood waters on to the plains below. This deadly changeover is from Banj (Himalayan Oak) to Chir pine. It is going on at an alarming speed, and because it is not a matter of deforestation, but of change from one kind of forest to another, it is not taken sufficiently seriously. In fact the quasi-commercial Forest Department is inclined to shut its eyes to the phenomenon, because the Banj brings them in no cash for the coffers, whereas the Chir pine is very profitable, yielding as it does both timber and resins
Mira Behn had thus identified not merely deforestation but change in species suitable to commercial forestry as the reason for ecological degradation in the Himalayas. She recognised that the leaf litter of oak forests was the primary mechanism for water conservation in the Himalayan mountain watersheds.
The Banj leaves, falling as they do, year by year, create a rich black mould in which develops a thick tangled mass of undergrowth (bushes, creepers, and grasses), which in their turn add to the leaf-mould deposit and the final result is a forest in which almost all the rain water becomes absorbed. Some of it evaporates back into the air and the rest percolates slowly down, to the lower altitudes, giving out here and there beautiful sweet and cool springs. It would be difficult to imagine a more ideal shock absorber for the monsoon rains than a Banj forest.
The Chir pine produces just the opposite effect. It creates with its pine needles a smooth, dry carpet, which absorbs nothing and which at the same time prevents the development of any undergrowth worth the name. In fact, often the ground in a Chir pine forest is as bare as a desert. When the torrential rains of the monsoon beat down on these southern slopes of the Himalayas, much of the pine-needle carpet gets washed away with the water and erosion invariably takes place, because these needles, being non-absorbent, create no leaf-mould, but only a little very inferior soil, which is easily washed out from the rocks and stones.
Inheriting these early lessons in ecology, Bahuguna was later able to transfer this ecological perspective to Chipko. The rapid spread of resistance in the hills of Uttar Pradesh and its success in enforcing changes in forest management was also largely due to the awareness created by folk poets like Ghanshyam Raturi, and grassroots organisational efforts of a number of people including Man Singh Rawat, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Dhoom Singh Negi. Bhatt, who later became well known for his work, became an activist at the behest of Bahuguna in 1959 when they met at a bus station in Gopeshwar where Bhatt was working as a booking clerk and Bahuguna, along with Rawat and Raturi, was waiting for a bus during an organisational trip through Gopeshwar. Having found Bhatt a promising activist, Bahuguna invited him to join them.
The Chipko movement is the contemporary expression of a continuing heritage of peaceful resistance by the people of Uttarakhand. In the post-independence period, under the coordination of Sarala Behn, the Gandhians organised themselves into the Uttarakhand Sarvodaya Mandal in 1961. The Sarvodaya movement in the sixties was organised around four major issues:
While the fight against alcohol consumption provided the platform for the organisation of women, the increasing conflict over forest produce between the local and non-local industries provided the rallying point for popular protest during the sixties. In 1968 the people of Garhwal renewed their resolve to fight for their forests in a memorial meeting held at Tilari on 30 May.
The platform for the organisation of women was thus ready by the seventies and this decade saw the beginning of more frequent and more vocal popular protests on the rights of the people to protect and utilise local forests. In 1971 Swami Chidanandji of Rishikesh undertook a month-long march to bless the people in their struggle. The year 1972 witnessed the most widespread organised protests against commercial exploitation of Himalayan forests by outside contractors in Uttarkashi on 12 December, and in Gopeshwar on 15 December. It was during these two protest meetings that Raturi composed his famous poem describing the method of embracing the trees to save them from felling:
Embrace the trees and
Save them from being felled;
The property of our hills,
Save them from being looted.
While the concept of saving trees from felling by embracing them is old in Indian culture, as was the case of Bishnois, in the context of the current phase of the movement for forest rights in Uttarakhand this popular poem written in 1972 is the earliest source of the now famous name 'Chipko'. In 1973 the tempo of the movement in the two centres-Uttarkashi and Gopeshwar-reached new heights. Raturi and Bhatt were the main organisers in these two places. While a meeting of the Sarvodaya Mandal was in progress in Gopeshwar in April 1973, the first popular action to chase contractors away erupted spontaneously in the region, when the villagers demonstrated against the felling of ash trees in Mandal forest. Bahuguna immediately asked his colleagues to proceed on a foot march in Chamoli district following the axemen and encouraging people to oppose them wherever they went. Later in December 1973, there was a militant non-violent demonstration in Uttarkashi in which thousands of people participated. In March 1974, twenty-seven women under the leadership of Goura Devi saved a large number of trees from a contractor's axe in Reni. Following this, the government was forced to abolish the private contract system of felling and in 1975 the Uttar Pradesh Forest Corporation was set up to perform this function. This was the first major achievement of the movement and marks the end of a phase in itself.
Bureaucratisation, however, cannot replace a civilisational response to the forest crisis. The ecological limits of forest extraction was hardly recognised and estimated. Ecological problems were accentuated leading to increased suffering of women who were responsible for bringing water, collecting fodder, etc. During the next five years Chipko resistance for forest protection spread to various parts of the Garhwal Himalayas. It is important to note that it was no longer the old demand for a supply of forest products for local small industries but the new demand for ecological control on forest resource extraction to ensure a supply of water and fodder that was being aired. In May 1977 Chipko activists in Henwal Valley organised themselves for future action. In June of the same year, Sarala Behn organised a meeting of all the activists in the hill areas of Uttar Pradesh which further strengthened the movement and consolidated the resistance to commercial fellings as well as excessive tapping of resin from the Chir pine trees. In Gotars forests in the Tehri range the forest ranger was transferred because of his inability to curb illegal over-tapping of resin. Consciousness was so high that in the Jogidanda area of the Saklana range, the public sector corporation, Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, was asked to regulate its resin-tapping activity.
Among the numerous instances of Chipko's successes throughout the Garhwal Himalayas in the years to follow, are those in Adwani, Amarsar and Badiyargarh. The auction of Adwani forests took place in October 1977 in Narendernagar, the district headquarters. Bahuguna undertook a fast against the auction and appealed to the forest contractors as well as the district authorities to refrain from auctioning the forests. The auction was undertaken despite the expression of popular discontent. In the first week of December 1977, the Adwani forests were scheduled to be felled. Large groups of women led by Bachhni Devi came forward to save the forests. Interestingly, Bachhni Devi was the wife of the local village head, who was himself a contractor. Chicks activist Dhoom Singh Negi supported the women s struggle by undertaking a fast in the forest itself. Women tied sacred threads to the trees as a symbol of a vow of protection. Between 13 and 20 December a large number of women from fifteen villages guarded the forests while discourses on the role of forests in Indian life from ancient texts continued non-stop. It was here in Adwani that the ecological slogan: 'What do the forests bear? Soil, water and pure air' was born.
The axemen withdrew only to return on 1 February 1978 with two truckloads of armed police. The plan was to encircle the forests with the help of the police in order to keep the people away during the felling operation. Even before the police could reach the area volunteers of the movement entered the forests and explained their case to the forest labourers who had been brought in from distant places. By the time the contractors arrived with the police each tree was being guarded by three volunteers who embraced the trees. The police, having been defeated in their own plan and seeing the level of awareness among the people, hastily withdrew before nightfall.
In March 1978 a new auction was planned in Narendranagar. A large popular demonstration was organised against it and the police arrested twenty-three Chipko volunteers, including women. In December 1978 a massive felling programme was planned by the public sector Uttar Pradesh Forest Development Corporation in the Badiyargarh region. 'the local people instantly informed Bahuguna who started a fast unto death at the felling site, on 9 January 1979. On the eleventh day of his fast Bahuguna was arrested in the middle of the night. This act only served to further strengthen the commitment of the people. Folk poet Ghanashyam Raturi and priest Khima Shastri led the movement as thousands of men and women from the neighbouring villages joined them in the Badiyargarh forests. The people remained in the forests and guarded the trees for eleven days, when the contractors finally withdrew. Bahuguna was released from jail on 31 January 1979.
The cumulative impact of the sustained grassroots struggles to protect forests was a re-thinking of the forest management strategy in the hill areas. The Chipko demand for the declaration of the Himalayan forests as protection forests instead of production forests for commercial exploitation was recognised at the highest policy-making level.The late Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, after a meeting with Bahuguna, recommended a fifteen year ban on commercial green felling in the Himalayan forests of Uttar Pradesh.
The moratorium on green felling gave the Chipko movement breathing time to expand the base of the movement and Bahuguna undertook a 4,780 km long arduous Chipko foot march from Kashmir to Kohima to contact villagers in the long Himalayan range and to spread the message of Chipko. At the same time, activists found it opportune to spread the movement to other mountain regions of the country.
Ecological Foundation of the Chipho Movement
Both the earlier forest satyagrahas and their contemporary form, the chipko movement, are rooted in conflicts over forest resources and are similar cultural responses to forest destruction. What differentiates Chipko from the earlier struggles is its ecological basis. The new concern to save and protect forests through Chipko satyagraha did not arise from a resentment against further encroachment on people's access to forest resources. It was a response to the alarming signals of rapid ecological destabilization in the hills. Villages that were once self-sufficient in food were forced to import food as a result of declining food productivity. This, in turn, was related to the decrease in soil fertility in the forests. Water sources began to dry up as forests disappeared. The so-called Natural disasters', such as floods and landslides, began to occur in river systems which had hitherto been stable. The Alaknanda disaster of July 1970 inundated 1,000 km of land in the hills and washed away many bridges and roads. In 1977 the Tawaghat tragedy took an even heavier toll. In 1978 the Bhagirathi blockade resulting from a big landslide above Uttarkashi led to massive floods across the entire Gangetic plains.
The over-exploitation of forest resources and the resulting threat to communities living in the forests have thus evolved from concerns for distribution of material benefits to concerns for distribution of ecologically generated material costs. During the first stage, the growth of commercial interests resulted in efforts to exclude competing demands. The beginning of large-scale commercial exploitation of India's forest resources led to the need for a forest legislation which denied village communities' access to forest resources. The forest satyagrahas of the thirties were an outcome of the Forest Act of 1927 which denied people access to biomass for survival while increasing biomass production for industrial and commercial growth. The growth imperative, however, drove production for commercial purposes into the second stage of conflict which is at the ecological level. Scientific and technical knowledge of forestry included in the existing model of forest management, is limited to viewing forests only as sources of commercial timber. This gives rise to prescriptions for forest management which are basically manipulations to maximise immediate growth of commercial wood. This is achieved initially by the destruction of other biomass forms that have lower commercial value but may be very important to the people, or have tremendous ecological significance. The silvicultural system of modern forestry includes prescriptions for the destruction of noncommercial biomass forms to ensure the increased production of commercial biomass forms. The encouragement to substitute ecologically valuable oak forests by commercially valuable conifers is an example of this shift. Ultimately, this increase in production may be described as mining of the ecological capital of forest ecosystems which have evolved over thousands of years.
The contemporary Chipko movement, which has become a national campaign, is the result of these multidimensional conflicts over forest resources at the scientific, technical, economic and ecological levels. It is not merely a conflict confined to local or non-local distribution of forest resources, such as timber and resin. The Chipko demand, at one stage was for a larger share for the local people in the immediate commercial benefits of an ecologically destructive pattern of forest resource exploitation. It has now evolved to the demand for ecological rehabilitation. Since the Chipko movement is based upon the perception of forests in their ecological context, it exposes the social and ecological costs of short-term growth-oriented forest management. This is clearly seen in the slogan of the Chipko movement which claims that the main products of the forests are not timber or resin, but soil, water and oxygen. With proper social control the basic biomass needs of food, fuel, fodder, small timber, and fertiliser can, in the Chipko vision and the Garhwal practice, be satisfied as positive externalities of biomass production primarily aimed at soil and water conservation to stabilise the local agro-pastoral economy.
The Chipko movement has been successful in forcing a fifteen year ban on commercial green felling in the hills of Uttar Pradesh, in stopping clear felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas, and in generating pressure for a national forest policy which is more sensitive to people's needs and to the ecological development of the country. Unfortunately, the Chipko movement has often been presented by vested interests as a reflection of a conflict between 'development' and 'ecological concern', implying that 'development' relates to material and objective bases of life whereas 'ecology' is concerned with non-material and subjective factors, such as scenic beauty. The deliberate introduction of this false and dangerous dichotomy between 'development' and 'ecology' disguises the real dichotomy between ecologically sound development and unsustainable and ecologically destructive economic growth. The latter is always achieved through the destruction of life-support systems and material deprivation of marginal communities. Genuine development can only be based on ecological stability which ensures sustainable supplies of vital resources. Gandhi and later his disciples, Mira Behn and Sarala Behn, clearly described how and why development is not necessarily contradictory to ecological stability. The conflict between exploitative economic growth and ecological development implies that, by questioning the destructive process of growth, ecological movements like Chipko are not an obstacle to the process of providing material welfare. On the contrary, by constantly keeping ecological stability in focus, they provide the best guarantee for ensuring a stable material basis for life.
In the final analysis, the dichotomy between 'development' and environment can be reduced to what is 'development' and how scientific knowledge is generated and used to achieve it. This dichotomy is clearly enunciated in the two slogans on the utility of the Himalayan forests-one emanating from the ecological concepts of Garhwali women, the other from the sectoral concepts of those associated with trade in forest products. When the Chipko movement evolved into an ecological movement in Adwani in 1977, the spirit of public interest ecological science was captured in the slogan: 'What do the forests bear? Soil water and pure air'. This was a response to the commonly accepted, partisan science based slogan: 'What do the forests bear? Profit on resin and timber'.
Figure 4.1. The Evolution of the Chipko Mouvement -Part I
Figure 4.2. The Evolution of the Chipko Mouvement -Part II
The insight in these slogans symbolised a cognitive shift in the evolution of Chipko. The movement underwent a qualitative transformation from being based merely on conflicts over resources to conflicts over scientific perceptions and philosophical approaches to nature. This transformation also led to that element of scientific knowledge which has allowed Chipko to reproduce itself in different ecological and cultural contexts. The slogan has become the scientific and philosophical message of the movement, and has laid the foundations of an alternative forestry science which is ecological in nature and oriented towards public interest. The commercial interest has the primary objective of maximising exchange value through the extraction of commercially valuable species. Forest ecosystems are therefore reduced to timber mines of commercially valuable species. 'Scientific forestry' in its present form is a reductionist system of knowledge which ignores the complex relationships within the forest community and between plant life and other resources like soil and water. Its pattern of resource utilisation is based on increasing 'productivity' on these reductionist lines. By ignoring the systems linkages within the forest ecosystem, this pattern of resource use generates instabilities in the ecosystem and leads to a counter-productive use of natural resources at the ecosystem level. The destruction of the forest ecosystem and the multiple functions of forest resources adversely affects the economic interests of those groups of society which depend on the diverse resource functions of forests for their survival. These include soil and water stabilization and the provision of food, fodder, fuel, fertiliser, etc. Forest movements like Chipko are simultaneously a critique of reductionist 'scientific' forestry and an articulation of a framework for an alternative forestry science which is ecological and can safeguard public interest. In this alternative forestry science, forest resources are not viewed as isolated from other resources of the ecosystem. Nor is the economic value of forests reduced to the commercial value of timber. 'Productivity', 'yield' and 'economic value' are defined for the integrated ecosystem and for multipurpose utilization. Their meaning and measure is therefore entirely different from the meaning and measure adopted in reductionist forestry. Just as in the shift from Newtonian to Einsteinian physics, the meaning of 'mass' changed from a velocity independent to a velocity dependent term, in the shift from reductionist forestry to ecological forestry, all scientific terms change from ecosystem independent to ecosystem dependent ones. Thus, for tribals and other forest communities a complex ecosystem is productive in terms of herbs, tubers, fibre, the gene pool, etc. whereas for the forester these components of the forest ecosystem are useless, unproductive and dispensable. Two economic perspectives lead to two notions of 'productivity' and 'value'. As far as overall productivity is concerned, the natural tropical forest is a highly productive ecosystem. Examining the forests of the humid tropics from the ecological perspective, Golley has noted: 'A large biomass is generally characteristic of tropical forests. The quantities of wood especially are large in tropical forests and average about 300 tons per ha compared with about 150 tons per ha for temperate forests. However, in partisan forestry, overall productivity is not important. It looks only for the industrially useful species and measures productivity in terms of industrial biomass. As Bethel states, referring to the large biomass typical of forests of the humid tropics,
It must be said that from a standpoint of industrial material supply, this is relatively unimportant. The important question is how much of this biomass represents trees and parts of trees of l preferred species that can be manufactured into products that can be profitably marketed. By today's utilisation standards, most of the trees, in these humid tropical forests are, from an industrial materials standpoint, clearly weeds.
With these assumptions of partisan forestry science wedded to forest industry, large tracts of natural tropical forests are being destroyed across the Third World. Though the justification given is increased 'productivity' yet productivity increase is only in one dimension. There is an overall decrease in productivity. The substitution of natural forests in India by Eucalyptus plantations has been justified on the grounds of improving the productivity of the site. However. it has been a partisan view of productivity in the context of pulpwood alone that has been projected as a universally applicable measure of productivity. What has been termed the 'Eucalyptus controversy' is in reality a paradigmatic conflict between an ecological public interest forestry and a reductionist partisan forestry which only responds to industrial requirements. While natural forests and many indigenous tree species are more productive than Eucalyptus in the public interest paradigm, the opposite is true in the partisan paradigm of forestry. The scientific conflict is actually an economic conflict over which needs and whose needs are more important. In such paradigmatic conflicts, dominant scientific assumptions change not by consensus but by replacement. Which paradigm will win and become dominant is determined by the political strength backing the paradigms. The utilisation of natural resources, is part of planned development, has been classically guided in India by the concept of maximization of growth in the short run. This maximisation is based on increasing the productivity of labour alone. Gandhi critically articulated the fallacy of increasing labour productivity independent of the social and material context. Gandhi's followers in the Chipko movement continue to critically evaluate restricted notions of productivity. It is this concern with resources and human needs which is symbolised in Bahuguna's well-known slogan-'ecology is permanent economy'.
These conceptual issues assume tremendous importance in view of the fact that we are entering into an era in which large amounts of financial resources are being handed over to Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who are rapidly becoming the new managers of old development projects. The self-reliance, decentralisation and sacrifice intrinsic to voluntary action is being threatened by treating NGOs as the new delivery system. It is in this context that the debate on these two philosophies of nature and political action becomes central to the debate on development. The urgency of establishing a new economy of permanence, based on ecological principles, is felt with each new environmental disaster in the Himalayan region which spells destruction for the Gangetic basin. Chipko's search for a strategy for survival has global implications. Chipko's demand is conservation of not merely local forest resources but the entire life-support system, and with it the option for human survival. Gandhi's mobilisation for a new society in which neither man nor nature is exploited and destroyed, marked the beginning of this civilisational response to the threat to human survival. Chipko's agenda includes carrying that vision against the heavier odds of contemporary crises. Its contemporary relevance as well as its significance for the future world, is clearly indicated in the rapid spread of the ecological world view throughout the vast stretch of the Himalayan region, following the historical 5,000 km trans-Himalaya Chipko foot march led by Bahuguna, and subsequently through other vulnerable mountain systems such as the Western Ghats, Central India and the Aravallis.
The history of Uttara Kannada has been the history of people's struggle against commercial forest policy. The destruction of tropical natural forests and the raising of monoculture plantations of teak and Eucalyptus caused irreversible changes in the forest ecosystem. The destruction of mixed species denied people access to biomass for fodder, fertiliser, etc. The clear felling of natural forests has led to severe soil erosion and drying up of perennial water resources. Moved by the destruction of essential ecological processes, the youth of Salkani village in Sirsi launched a Chipko movement which was locally known as 'Appiko Chaluvali'. They embraced the trees to be felled by contractors of the forest department. The protest within the forest continued for thirty eight days and finally the felling orders were withdrawn. The success of this agitation spread to other places and the movement has now been launched in eight areas covering the entire Sirsi forest division in Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts. These areas included Mathghatta, Salkani, Balegadde, Husei, Nedgod, Kelgin Jaddi, Vanalli and Andagi, The rapid spread of the movement was based on evidence provided by villagers that the forest department was over-exploiting the forests. Villagers' complaints were later confirmed by official visits by scientists and politicians. In the forest of Kalase, with an area of 151.75 hectares earmarked for selection-cum-improvement felling for the year 198 3 84, a total of 590 trees above the girth limit of 2 metres was earmarked for felling. The Indian Plywood Mills had extracted a total of 125 trees belonging to eight species in the 1982-83 season. Thus a total of 715 trees spread over 151.75 hectares, or 4.05 trees per hectare were to be extracted. With an additional 5 per cent added for damage, the total number expected to be felled was 4.25 trees per hectare.
Representatives of the Lalkhminarasimba Yuvak Mandali who launched the Appiko movement in September 1983 maintained that (a) there was an excessive concentration of trees earmarked for felling in easily accessible areas, and (b) there was excessive damage to trees during the course of felling. In 1 hectare plot sampled it was found that eleven trees had been marked for cutting, out of which eight had been felled. In the process of felling these eight trees, as many as five trees had been damaged. This rapacious destruction of forest resources was undermining the ecological survival of local communities, who finally stopped felling through non-violent direct action- as seen in the case of Chipko.
The objective of the Appiko movement is three-fold. To protect the existing forest cover, to regenerate trees in denuded lands and, last but not least, to utilise forest wealth with due consideration to conservation. All these objectives are implemented through locally established Parisara Samrakshna Kendras (environmental conservation centres).
The Appiko movement has created awareness among villagers throughout the Western Ghats about the ecological destruction of their forest wealth. People now closely monitor the exploitation of forests by the forest department, and have been able to show the discrepancy between professed and actual practice of forest management. In December 1984, villagers of Gerasoppo range of Honavar forest division were able to record the felling practices and damage to forests due to timber exploitation. Their observations were as follows:
Trees are felled in catchment areas of Sharavati river (Honavar forest division on steep slopes).
In evergreen forest areas seven trees were felled in one acre (Marked). Two marked trees (Nos. 542 and 111) felled had a girth of 1.80 metres and 1.50 metres, respectively. Thirty seven trees, with a girth of over 50 ems, and thirty-two trees, with a girth of over 10 cms were damaged.
The distance from tree No. 75 to tree No. 90 which had to he felled was only 4.60 metros.
No lopping was done while felling trees.
Eight trees felled on an 80 degree slope, seven trees felled on a 75 degree slope, and ten trees were felled on the water line.
Dragging of logs was done extensively all over the place.
The top soil up to six inches was ripped off totally by dragging logs. This soil will be carried to the Sharavati river, raise its bed and the water level, and cause floods in an area which receives 250 inches of rainfall every year. Besides destabilising the catchment area, commercial exploitation has also deprived people of their use of forest biomass for basic needs. An 80-year old man, Rama Naik of Mattingadde village, narrated his experience. 'We had enough of medicinal trees. There was enough bamboo and cane for us. But after independence the felling of trees began and now everything is gone. There is no cane left. People's greed to make fast money has ruined us.'
In the context of this conflict between commercial demands and the demands for ecological stability and survival, the Appiko activists believe in the Chipko philosophy that The basic products of the forests in the Western Ghats are soil, water and pure air' which form the basis of life in the Deccan Plateau. They are not fuelwood and timber which are regarded as ultimate products from these forests in the market economy.
Table 4.1 History of Chipko (Appiko Chaluvali) Movement in South India