Chipko Andolan :- 

Women and men standing around trees, hugging them, holding each other’s hands — This was the scene in a village in Uttar Pradesh in 1973, now in Uttarakhand, where the modern Chipko Movement took birth under the aegis of Sunderlal Bahuguna, a noted Garhwali environmentalist.

This was the strongest form of resistance against rampant cutting of trees, where people asserted their rights over nature, vowing to protect it. The movement turned 45 years old today.

Chipko type movement dates to 1730 AD when in Khejarli village of Rajasthan, 363 people of the Bishnoi tribe sacrificed their lives to save khejri trees. Woman named Amrita Devi led the movement in the 18th century and laid down her life along with a group of villagers while protecting trees from being felled on the orders of the King of Jodhpur. After this incident, the king, in a royal decree, banned cutting of trees in all Bishnoi villages.

The modern movement was a collective protest that the rural folk undertook, based on the Gandhian principles of non-violence. This was a concerted way to halt the ravaging of the foothills of the Himalayas. In the name of development, forest contractors cut down acres trees, and loot timber.

The uprising against the felling of trees and maintaining the ecological balance originated in Chamoli district (now Uttarakhand) in 1973 and in no time spilled onto other states in north India.

The name ‘Chipko’ comes from the word ‘embrace’, as the villagers hugged the trees and prevented them from being cut down.

The Chipko andolan is a movement that practised the methods of Satyagraha where both male and female activists from Uttarakhand played vital roles, including Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi and Chandi Prasad Bhatt.

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