What is Chipko Andolan?
Chipko Andolan is a socio-ecological and non violent movement of conserving forests and trees from illegal destruction where people hugged trees to confront commercial loggers from felling trees. This action raised the support for the movement and it was called Chipko Andolan which literally meant to hug trees.
Indian History of “Ahimsa”
India has an incredible past of non violent movements for “rights” right from the time of British rule. These non violent movements originated from the teachings of “ahimsa” by various Hindu saints and influential people like Mahatma Gandhi. Ahimsa is a Hindi word which means “Peace” or “No Harm”. Chipko Andolan is such a movement where people used this way of ahimsa to protect forests and trees from commercial loggers in Northern India.
What went wrong?
It all started during the British rule in India when the Britishers imposed new land ownership rules and implemented new policies for trade and commercial business. As per the new policies, the new owner of the land was the sole owner of all the resources including forest resources and trees falling under the land allotted to him. Also it was the right of the owner to use those resources by what way he desires which caring for nature or anybody else.
Furthermore, the development of railway network in northern India and military needs of British royal navy encouraged exploitation of forests and felling of trees to build ships and blocks to support railway lines. This resulted in large scale destruction of India’s forests and caused landslides, floods and threat to the communities relying on forest resources for their livelihood.
A series of non violent movements were started to protest against the British policies but the Britishers suppressed these movements by brutally massacring thousand of villagers.
The Landmark Chipko Andolan Movement:
The landmark event of Chipko movement happened on March 26, 1974 in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, where a group of peasant women hugged trees to prevent them from felling down. They were ready to sacrifice their life before trees could fell down by the loggers. This act of forest prevention spread like a wild fire and inspired other regions to follow the movement. By the 1980’s, this movement had already spread all across India and saved several millions of trees from felling down.
The Key Milestones of Chipko Movement:
The roots of Chipko Movement links way back in 1730 to “Bishnoi Society” in Khejarli, Jodhpur district, India when 363 Bishnoi samaj people sacrificed their lives for the prevention of Khejri trees. They were axed down by the loggers of local ruler but they never retreat back.
It happened at a time when there was hardly any concern for environment and no evidences for climate change and global warming. So it inspired many other environmental groups worldwide to act on controlling the destruction of forest resources.
Most of the Chipko Andolan activists were female as they were directly affected by the destruction of forest resources which were their economical backbone.