Childhood has many fascinating stories which are entrenched in our minds & some life lessons that we treasure throughout our lives. Reminiscing the Environment Studies Classes where we used to discuss the importance of ecology; its Conservation and the ill effects of Deforestation; teachings that Plants and Trees are our Companions; A loud recitation of poems — pledging for the conservation of the environment. One such Story drawn from this Pandora box is of Sundarlal Bahuguna’s Chipko movement.
Chipko Movement or Chipko Andolan was started in 1973 in UP’s Chamboli District (now Uttarakhand) by a group of women, it was a nonviolent agitation aimed at protecting the trees. The word Chipko, which means Embrace, saw villagers hugging the trees and encircling them to prevent them from cutting. The idea of – ‘Our lives before the trees’.
Historically speaking the original Chipko Andolan can be traced back to the 18th Century with Rajasthan’s Bishnoi Community. It was led by Amrita Devi and a group of villagers who laid down their lives while protecting the trees from being felled down on the orders of the King of Jodhpur. It was only after this incident the king banned the cutting down of trees in all the Bishnoi Village.
Under Sundarlal Bahuguna, the Chipko Movement gained momentum. He was an Eco activist and spent his life educating the villagers to protest against the destruction of the forests and the Himalayan Mountains. It was his efforts that the movement got huge support from the masses and eventually made the then PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi put a ban on cutting the trees. The ban was subsequently implemented in other parts of the country.
Bahuguna was a charismatic leader who lived an ascetic life and was an ardent follower of the Gandhian Principles. In 2009, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan Award by GOI for his environmental conservation. Dwelling in Big cities and Multi floored houses we hardly get a chance to know about the natural habitat. In the name of Development and Urbanization, we have distanced ourselves from nature. It seems that our Early live teaching has no significance if we are not practicing it in REAL.
For us, the best way to secure Bahuguna’s vision will be when we as a youth will engage ourselves in embracing the challenges of protecting our Flora and Fauna.