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50th Anniversary of Chipko Movement


Recently marked the completion of 50 years for the Chipko Movement, a landmark environmental movement initiated in Uttarakhand in 1973.


  1. What Was the Essence of the Chipko Movement?
  2. Key Figures and Leaders

What Was the Essence of the Chipko Movement?

  • Emerged in the 1970s in Chamoli, Uttarakhand, amidst rampant deforestation fueled by external contractors.
  • Originating in the Himalayan villages of Reni and Mandal, local women embraced trees in nearby forests to shield them from commercial loggers.
  • Dubbed “chipko,” signifying “embrace,” villagers encircled and hugged trees, symbolizing the unity of humanity with nature.
  • Through their actions, they conveyed a powerful message: “We, our nature, and us, are One.”
  • It was a peaceful protest aimed at safeguarding nature.
  • Its foremost achievement was raising awareness about forest rights and showcasing how grassroots activism can influence ecological policymaking.
  • This movement ultimately led to a ban on commercial tree felling above 30 degrees slope and above 1,000 msl (mean sea level) in 1981.
Philosophy Behind the Movement:
  • Gandhian Principles: Advocacy for non-violence and coexistence with nature.
  • Community Empowerment: Granting local communities a say in managing their natural resources.
  • Challenging Exploitative Practices: Opposition to external contractors’ exploitative methods, advocating for a more inclusive approach to forest management.
  • Inspiration for Similar Movements: Sparked movements like Narmada Bachao Andolan, Appiko Movement (Karnataka), and Silent Valley Movement in different regions of India.
  • Global Symbol of Resistance: Internationally recognized as a symbol against environmental degradation.
  • Policy Influence: Contributed to policy reforms in India, resulting in stricter regulations against illegal deforestation and protection of indigenous communities’ rights.
  • Empowerment of Women: Highlighted the collective activism of women, reshaping societal perceptions of their role and status.
Relevance of Chipko Movement in 2024:
  • Continued Inspiration: Serves as a timeless inspiration for collective action in addressing environmental issues.
  • Principles of Sustainability: Offers guidance on sustainability, community engagement, and nonviolent protest in combating climate change and preserving ecosystems.
  • Grassroots Inspiration: Encourages grassroots-level activism, women’s participation, and community inclusion in environmental planning.

Key Figures and Leaders:

Chandi Prasad Bhatt: A Gandhian Social Activist and Environmentalist, pivotal in the movement’s early phase, who established the Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal (DGSM), instrumental in shaping the movement and rallying villagers against unsustainable deforestation.

Sundarlal Bahuguna: Inspired by Gandhian principles of nonviolence and socialism, he played a vital role in organizing local communities and raising awareness about the importance of forests, significantly contributing to mobilizing people.

Gaura Devi: A village woman who emerged as a symbol of resistance, leading a group of women in Reni to confront loggers and physically embrace trees, effectively thwarting their cutting. With this, Chipko evolved into a predominantly women-led movement, inspiring women across the country.

-Source: Indian Express, Down To Earth

May 2024