• Non-ICIMOD Publication

Chipko movement: Of floated myths and flouted realities

  • Bandyopadhyay, J.

On 26 March 1999, a quarter of a century will be over since a group of women in the Reni forests of Garhwal Himalaya succeeded in chasing away timber felling contractors. In course of time this event became a milestone in the evolution of the world famous Chipko movement. An impressive and useful bibliography on the literature around the movement has also developed since then. A number of activists with remarkable philosophical richness and social commitment have devoted their lives to this movement, which is one of the most written about, in the world today.<br /> <br /> In spite of the volumes of literature, or probably because of it, there appear some serious gaps in the public impressions and actual realities of the movement. Myths have often flouted realities; individuals with no links with the movements have often been projected by the media as its leader. Thus, some widely accepted yet mistaken concepts have got currency. There is a need to re-establish the realities about the movement and to honour the selfless hard work of the numerous less-known and unknown Chipko activists.<br /> <br /> As a student of environmental activism, over the past 20 years, the present author and his associates have traveled extensively through mountain villages in large parts of Garhwal and Kumaon Himalaya, where the Chipko movement emerged. This article is written as a tribute to the numerous and largely unknown activists of the movement on the occasion of the completion of 25 years since the successful forest protection action in Reni under the leadership of Gaura Devi, the head of the local village women's organisation. It is also aimed at a wider examination of the reliability of the media created 'messages' and dispelling some of the myths about the movement that have floated around for quite sometime.

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