|Ecology and the Politics of Survival: Conflicts over Natural Resources in India (UNU, 1991, 353 pages)|
|Part I Forest Conflicts|
The chipko movement is historically, philosophically and organi sationally an extension of the traditional Gandhian satyagraha. Its special significance lies in the fact that it took place in post independent India. The continuity between the pre-independence and post-independence forms of this satyagraha has beer provided by Gandhians, including Sri Dev Suman, Mira Behn and Sarala Behn. Sri Dev Suman was initiated into Gandhian satyagraha at the time of the Salt Satyagraha. He died as a martyr for the cause of the Garhwali people's right to survive with dignity and freedom. Both Mira Behn and Sarala Behn were close associates of Gandhiji. They settled in the interior of the Himalayas and established ashrams. Sarala Behn settled in Kumaon, and Mira Behn lived in Garhwal till the time she left for Vienna due to ill health. Equipped with the Gandhian world view of development based on justice and ecological stability, they contributed silently to the growth of women power and ecological conscciousness in the hill areas o Uttar Pradesh. The influence of these two European disciples of Gandhiji on the heritage of struggle for social justice and ecological stability in the hills of Uttar Pradesh has been immense and they generated a new brand of Gandhian activists who provided the foundation for the Chipko movement. Sundarlal Bahuguna is prominent among the new generation of workers deeply inspired by these Gandhians. Influenced by Sri Dev Suman, he joined the independence movement at the age of 13. Later, he worked with Mira Behn in Bhilangana Valley and was trained in her ecological vision. In an article written in 1952, Mira Behn had stated that there was 'Something Wrong in the Himalaya.
Year after year the floods in the North of India seem to be getting worse, and this year they have been absolutely devastating. This means that there is something radically wrong in the Himalayas, and that 'something' is, without doubt, connected with the forests. It is not, I believe, just a matter of deforestation as some people think, but largely a matter of change of species.
Living in the Himalayas as I have been continuously now for several years, I have become painfully aware of a vital change in species of trees which is creeping up and up the southern slopes-those very slopes which let down the flood waters on to the plains below. This deadly changeover is from Banj (Himalayan Oak) to Chir pine. It is going on at an alarming speed, and because it is not a matter of deforestation, but of change from one kind of forest to another, it is not taken sufficiently seriously. In fact the quasi-commercial Forest Department is inclined to shut its eyes to the phenomenon, because the Banj brings them in no cash for the coffers, whereas the Chir pine is very profitable, yielding as it does both timber and resins
Mira Behn had thus identified not merely deforestation but change in species suitable to commercial forestry as the reason for ecological degradation in the Himalayas. She recognised that the leaf litter of oak forests was the primary mechanism for water conservation in the Himalayan mountain watersheds.
The Banj leaves, falling as they do, year by year, create a rich black mould in which develops a thick tangled mass of undergrowth (bushes, creepers, and grasses), which in their turn add to the leaf-mould deposit and the final result is a forest in which almost all the rain water becomes absorbed. Some of it evaporates back into the air and the rest percolates slowly down, to the lower altitudes, giving out here and there beautiful sweet and cool springs. It would be difficult to imagine a more ideal shock absorber for the monsoon rains than a Banj forest.
The Chir pine produces just the opposite effect. It creates with its pine needles a smooth, dry carpet, which absorbs nothing and which at the same time prevents the development of any undergrowth worth the name. In fact, often the ground in a Chir pine forest is as bare as a desert. When the torrential rains of the monsoon beat down on these southern slopes of the Himalayas, much of the pine-needle carpet gets washed away with the water and erosion invariably takes place, because these needles, being non-absorbent, create no leaf-mould, but only a little very inferior soil, which is easily washed out from the rocks and stones.
Inheriting these early lessons in ecology, Bahuguna was later able to transfer this ecological perspective to Chipko. The rapid spread of resistance in the hills of Uttar Pradesh and its success in enforcing changes in forest management was also largely due to the awareness created by folk poets like Ghanshyam Raturi, and grassroots organisational efforts of a number of people including Man Singh Rawat, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Dhoom Singh Negi. Bhatt, who later became well known for his work, became an activist at the behest of Bahuguna in 1959 when they met at a bus station in Gopeshwar where Bhatt was working as a booking clerk and Bahuguna, along with Rawat and Raturi, was waiting for a bus during an organisational trip through Gopeshwar. Having found Bhatt a promising activist, Bahuguna invited him to join them.
The Chipko movement is the contemporary expression of a continuing heritage of peaceful resistance by the people of Uttarakhand. In the post-independence period, under the coordination of Sarala Behn, the Gandhians organised themselves into the Uttarakhand Sarvodaya Mandal in 1961. The Sarvodaya movement in the sixties was organised around four major issues:
While the fight against alcohol consumption provided the platform for the organisation of women, the increasing conflict over forest produce between the local and non-local industries provided the rallying point for popular protest during the sixties. In 1968 the people of Garhwal renewed their resolve to fight for their forests in a memorial meeting held at Tilari on 30 May.
The platform for the organisation of women was thus ready by the seventies and this decade saw the beginning of more frequent and more vocal popular protests on the rights of the people to protect and utilise local forests. In 1971 Swami Chidanandji of Rishikesh undertook a month-long march to bless the people in their struggle. The year 1972 witnessed the most widespread organised protests against commercial exploitation of Himalayan forests by outside contractors in Uttarkashi on 12 December, and in Gopeshwar on 15 December. It was during these two protest meetings that Raturi composed his famous poem describing the method of embracing the trees to save them from felling:
Embrace the trees and
Save them from being felled;
The property of our hills,
Save them from being looted.
While the concept of saving trees from felling by embracing them is old in Indian culture, as was the case of Bishnois, in the context of the current phase of the movement for forest rights in Uttarakhand this popular poem written in 1972 is the earliest source of the now famous name 'Chipko'. In 1973 the tempo of the movement in the two centres-Uttarkashi and Gopeshwar-reached new heights. Raturi and Bhatt were the main organisers in these two places. While a meeting of the Sarvodaya Mandal was in progress in Gopeshwar in April 1973, the first popular action to chase contractors away erupted spontaneously in the region, when the villagers demonstrated against the felling of ash trees in Mandal forest. Bahuguna immediately asked his colleagues to proceed on a foot march in Chamoli district following the axemen and encouraging people to oppose them wherever they went. Later in December 1973, there was a militant non-violent demonstration in Uttarkashi in which thousands of people participated. In March 1974, twenty-seven women under the leadership of Goura Devi saved a large number of trees from a contractor's axe in Reni. Following this, the government was forced to abolish the private contract system of felling and in 1975 the Uttar Pradesh Forest Corporation was set up to perform this function. This was the first major achievement of the movement and marks the end of a phase in itself.
Bureaucratisation, however, cannot replace a civilisational response to the forest crisis. The ecological limits of forest extraction was hardly recognised and estimated. Ecological problems were accentuated leading to increased suffering of women who were responsible for bringing water, collecting fodder, etc. During the next five years Chipko resistance for forest protection spread to various parts of the Garhwal Himalayas. It is important to note that it was no longer the old demand for a supply of forest products for local small industries but the new demand for ecological control on forest resource extraction to ensure a supply of water and fodder that was being aired. In May 1977 Chipko activists in Henwal Valley organised themselves for future action. In June of the same year, Sarala Behn organised a meeting of all the activists in the hill areas of Uttar Pradesh which further strengthened the movement and consolidated the resistance to commercial fellings as well as excessive tapping of resin from the Chir pine trees. In Gotars forests in the Tehri range the forest ranger was transferred because of his inability to curb illegal over-tapping of resin. Consciousness was so high that in the Jogidanda area of the Saklana range, the public sector corporation, Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, was asked to regulate its resin-tapping activity.
Among the numerous instances of Chipko's successes throughout the Garhwal Himalayas in the years to follow, are those in Adwani, Amarsar and Badiyargarh. The auction of Adwani forests took place in October 1977 in Narendernagar, the district headquarters. Bahuguna undertook a fast against the auction and appealed to the forest contractors as well as the district authorities to refrain from auctioning the forests. The auction was undertaken despite the expression of popular discontent. In the first week of December 1977, the Adwani forests were scheduled to be felled. Large groups of women led by Bachhni Devi came forward to save the forests. Interestingly, Bachhni Devi was the wife of the local village head, who was himself a contractor. Chicks activist Dhoom Singh Negi supported the women s struggle by undertaking a fast in the forest itself. Women tied sacred threads to the trees as a symbol of a vow of protection. Between 13 and 20 December a large number of women from fifteen villages guarded the forests while discourses on the role of forests in Indian life from ancient texts continued non-stop. It was here in Adwani that the ecological slogan: 'What do the forests bear? Soil, water and pure air' was born.
The axemen withdrew only to return on 1 February 1978 with two truckloads of armed police. The plan was to encircle the forests with the help of the police in order to keep the people away during the felling operation. Even before the police could reach the area volunteers of the movement entered the forests and explained their case to the forest labourers who had been brought in from distant places. By the time the contractors arrived with the police each tree was being guarded by three volunteers who embraced the trees. The police, having been defeated in their own plan and seeing the level of awareness among the people, hastily withdrew before nightfall.
In March 1978 a new auction was planned in Narendranagar. A large popular demonstration was organised against it and the police arrested twenty-three Chipko volunteers, including women. In December 1978 a massive felling programme was planned by the public sector Uttar Pradesh Forest Development Corporation in the Badiyargarh region. 'the local people instantly informed Bahuguna who started a fast unto death at the felling site, on 9 January 1979. On the eleventh day of his fast Bahuguna was arrested in the middle of the night. This act only served to further strengthen the commitment of the people. Folk poet Ghanashyam Raturi and priest Khima Shastri led the movement as thousands of men and women from the neighbouring villages joined them in the Badiyargarh forests. The people remained in the forests and guarded the trees for eleven days, when the contractors finally withdrew. Bahuguna was released from jail on 31 January 1979.
The cumulative impact of the sustained grassroots struggles to protect forests was a re-thinking of the forest management strategy in the hill areas. The Chipko demand for the declaration of the Himalayan forests as protection forests instead of production forests for commercial exploitation was recognised at the highest policy-making level.The late Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, after a meeting with Bahuguna, recommended a fifteen year ban on commercial green felling in the Himalayan forests of Uttar Pradesh.
The moratorium on green felling gave the Chipko movement breathing time to expand the base of the movement and Bahuguna undertook a 4,780 km long arduous Chipko foot march from Kashmir to Kohima to contact villagers in the long Himalayan range and to spread the message of Chipko. At the same time, activists found it opportune to spread the movement to other mountain regions of the country.
Ecological Foundation of the Chipho Movement
Both the earlier forest satyagrahas and their contemporary form, the chipko movement, are rooted in conflicts over forest resources and are similar cultural responses to forest destruction. What differentiates Chipko from the earlier struggles is its ecological basis. The new concern to save and protect forests through Chipko satyagraha did not arise from a resentment against further encroachment on people's access to forest resources. It was a response to the alarming signals of rapid ecological destabilization in the hills. Villages that were once self-sufficient in food were forced to import food as a result of declining food productivity. This, in turn, was related to the decrease in soil fertility in the forests. Water sources began to dry up as forests disappeared. The so-called Natural disasters', such as floods and landslides, began to occur in river systems which had hitherto been stable. The Alaknanda disaster of July 1970 inundated 1,000 km of land in the hills and washed away many bridges and roads. In 1977 the Tawaghat tragedy took an even heavier toll. In 1978 the Bhagirathi blockade resulting from a big landslide above Uttarkashi led to massive floods across the entire Gangetic plains.
The over-exploitation of forest resources and the resulting threat to communities living in the forests have thus evolved from concerns for distribution of material benefits to concerns for distribution of ecologically generated material costs. During the first stage, the growth of commercial interests resulted in efforts to exclude competing demands. The beginning of large-scale commercial exploitation of India's forest resources led to the need for a forest legislation which denied village communities' access to forest resources. The forest satyagrahas of the thirties were an outcome of the Forest Act of 1927 which denied people access to biomass for survival while increasing biomass production for industrial and commercial growth. The growth imperative, however, drove production for commercial purposes into the second stage of conflict which is at the ecological level. Scientific and technical knowledge of forestry included in the existing model of forest management, is limited to viewing forests only as sources of commercial timber. This gives rise to prescriptions for forest management which are basically manipulations to maximise immediate growth of commercial wood. This is achieved initially by the destruction of other biomass forms that have lower commercial value but may be very important to the people, or have tremendous ecological significance. The silvicultural system of modern forestry includes prescriptions for the destruction of noncommercial biomass forms to ensure the increased production of commercial biomass forms. The encouragement to substitute ecologically valuable oak forests by commercially valuable conifers is an example of this shift. Ultimately, this increase in production may be described as mining of the ecological capital of forest ecosystems which have evolved over thousands of years.
The contemporary Chipko movement, which has become a national campaign, is the result of these multidimensional conflicts over forest resources at the scientific, technical, economic and ecological levels. It is not merely a conflict confined to local or non-local distribution of forest resources, such as timber and resin. The Chipko demand, at one stage was for a larger share for the local people in the immediate commercial benefits of an ecologically destructive pattern of forest resource exploitation. It has now evolved to the demand for ecological rehabilitation. Since the Chipko movement is based upon the perception of forests in their ecological context, it exposes the social and ecological costs of short-term growth-oriented forest management. This is clearly seen in the slogan of the Chipko movement which claims that the main products of the forests are not timber or resin, but soil, water and oxygen. With proper social control the basic biomass needs of food, fuel, fodder, small timber, and fertiliser can, in the Chipko vision and the Garhwal practice, be satisfied as positive externalities of biomass production primarily aimed at soil and water conservation to stabilise the local agro-pastoral economy.
The Chipko movement has been successful in forcing a fifteen year ban on commercial green felling in the hills of Uttar Pradesh, in stopping clear felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas, and in generating pressure for a national forest policy which is more sensitive to people's needs and to the ecological development of the country. Unfortunately, the Chipko movement has often been presented by vested interests as a reflection of a conflict between 'development' and 'ecological concern', implying that 'development' relates to material and objective bases of life whereas 'ecology' is concerned with non-material and subjective factors, such as scenic beauty. The deliberate introduction of this false and dangerous dichotomy between 'development' and 'ecology' disguises the real dichotomy between ecologically sound development and unsustainable and ecologically destructive economic growth. The latter is always achieved through the destruction of life-support systems and material deprivation of marginal communities. Genuine development can only be based on ecological stability which ensures sustainable supplies of vital resources. Gandhi and later his disciples, Mira Behn and Sarala Behn, clearly described how and why development is not necessarily contradictory to ecological stability. The conflict between exploitative economic growth and ecological development implies that, by questioning the destructive process of growth, ecological movements like Chipko are not an obstacle to the process of providing material welfare. On the contrary, by constantly keeping ecological stability in focus, they provide the best guarantee for ensuring a stable material basis for life.
In the final analysis, the dichotomy between 'development' and environment can be reduced to what is 'development' and how scientific knowledge is generated and used to achieve it. This dichotomy is clearly enunciated in the two slogans on the utility of the Himalayan forests-one emanating from the ecological concepts of Garhwali women, the other from the sectoral concepts of those associated with trade in forest products. When the Chipko movement evolved into an ecological movement in Adwani in 1977, the spirit of public interest ecological science was captured in the slogan: 'What do the forests bear? Soil water and pure air'. This was a response to the commonly accepted, partisan science based slogan: 'What do the forests bear? Profit on resin and timber'.
The insight in these slogans symbolised a cognitive shift in the evolution of Chipko. The movement underwent a qualitative transformation from being based merely on conflicts over resources to conflicts over scientific perceptions and philosophical approaches to nature. This transformation also led to that element of scientific knowledge which has allowed Chipko to reproduce itself in different ecological and cultural contexts. The slogan has become the scientific and philosophical message of the movement, and has laid the foundations of an alternative forestry science which is ecological in nature and oriented towards public interest. The commercial interest has the primary objective of maximising exchange value through the extraction of commercially valuable species. Forest ecosystems are therefore reduced to timber mines of commercially valuable species. 'Scientific forestry' in its present form is a reductionist system of knowledge which ignores the complex relationships within the forest community and between plant life and other resources like soil and water. Its pattern of resource utilisation is based on increasing 'productivity' on these reductionist lines. By ignoring the systems linkages within the forest ecosystem, this pattern of resource use generates instabilities in the ecosystem and leads to a counter-productive use of natural resources at the ecosystem level. The destruction of the forest ecosystem and the multiple functions of forest resources adversely affects the economic interests of those groups of society which depend on the diverse resource functions of forests for their survival. These include soil and water stabilization and the provision of food, fodder, fuel, fertiliser, etc. Forest movements like Chipko are simultaneously a critique of reductionist 'scientific' forestry and an articulation of a framework for an alternative forestry science which is ecological and can safeguard public interest. In this alternative forestry science, forest resources are not viewed as isolated from other resources of the ecosystem. Nor is the economic value of forests reduced to the commercial value of timber. 'Productivity', 'yield' and 'economic value' are defined for the integrated ecosystem and for multipurpose utilization. Their meaning and measure is therefore entirely different from the meaning and measure adopted in reductionist forestry. Just as in the shift from Newtonian to Einsteinian physics, the meaning of 'mass' changed from a velocity independent to a velocity dependent term, in the shift from reductionist forestry to ecological forestry, all scientific terms change from ecosystem independent to ecosystem dependent ones. Thus, for tribals and other forest communities a complex ecosystem is productive in terms of herbs, tubers, fibre, the gene pool, etc., whereas for the forester these components of the forest ecosystem are useless, unproductive and dispensable. Two economic perspectives lead to two notions of 'productivity' and 'value'. As far as overall productivity is concerned, the natural tropical forest is a highly productive ecosystem. Examining the forests of the humid tropics from the ecological perspective, Golley has noted: 'A large biomass is generally characteristic of tropical forests. The quantities of wood especially are large in tropical forests and average about 300 tons per ha compared with about 150 tons per ha for temperate forests. However, in partisan forestry, overall productivity is not important. It looks only for the industrially useful species and measures productivity in terms of industrial biomass. As Bethel states, referring to the large biomass typical of forests of the humid tropics,
It must be said that from a standpoint of industrial material supply, this is relatively unimportant. The important question is how much of this biomass represents trees and parts of trees of l preferred species that can be manufactured into products that can be profitably marketed.... By today's utilisation standards, most of the trees, in these humid tropical forests are, from an industrial materials standpoint, clearly weeds.
With these assumptions of partisan forestry science wedded to forest industry, large tracts of natural tropical forests are being destroyed across the Third World. Though the justification given is increased 'productivity' yet productivity increase is only in one dimension. There is an overall decrease in productivity. The substitution of natural forests in India by Eucalyptus plantations has been justified on the grounds of improving the productivity of the site. However. it has been a partisan view of productivity in the context of pulpwood alone that has been projected as a universally applicable measure of productivity. What has been termed the 'Eucalyptus controversy' is in reality a paradigmatic conflict between an ecological public interest forestry and a reductionist partisan forestry which only responds to industrial requirements. While natural forests and many indigenous tree species are more productive than Eucalyptus in the public interest paradigm, the opposite is true in the partisan paradigm of forestry. The scientific conflict is actually an economic conflict over which needs and whose needs are more important. In such paradigmatic conflicts, dominant scientific assumptions change not by consensus but by replacement. Which paradigm will win and become dominant is determined by the political strength backing the paradigms. The utilisation of natural resources, is part of planned development, has been classically guided in India by the concept of maximization of growth in the short run. This maximisation is based on increasing the productivity of labour alone. Gandhi critically articulated the fallacy of increasing labour productivity independent of the social and material context. Gandhi's followers in the Chipko movement continue to critically evaluate restricted notions of productivity. It is this concern with resources and human needs which is symbolised in Bahuguna's well-known slogan-'ecology is permanent economy'.
These conceptual issues assume tremendous importance in view of the fact that we are entering into an era in which large amounts of financial resources are being handed over to Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who are rapidly becoming the new managers of old development projects. The self-reliance, decentralisation and sacrifice intrinsic to voluntary action is being threatened by treating NGOs as the new delivery system. It is in this context that the debate on these two philosophies of nature and political action becomes central to the debate on development. The urgency of establishing a new economy of permanence, based on ecological principles, is felt with each new environmental disaster in the Himalayan region which spells destruction for the Gangetic basin. Chipko's search for a strategy for survival has global implications. Chipko's demand is conservation of not merely local forest resources but the entire life-support system, and with it the option for human survival. Gandhi's mobilisation for a new society in which neither man nor nature is exploited and destroyed, marked the beginning of this civilisational response to the threat to human survival. Chipko's agenda includes carrying that vision against the heavier odds of contemporary crises. Its contemporary relevance as well as its significance for the future world, is clearly indicated in the rapid spread of the ecological world view throughout the vast stretch of the Himalayan region, following the historical 5,000 km trans-Himalaya Chipko foot march led by Bahuguna, and subsequently through other vulnerable mountain systems such as the Western Ghats, Central India and the Aravallis.
The history of Uttara Kannada has been the history of people's struggle against commercial forest policy. The destruction of tropical natural forests and the raising of monoculture plantations of teak and Eucalyptus caused irreversible changes in the forest ecosystem. The destruction of mixed species denied people access to biomass for fodder, fertiliser, etc. The clear felling of natural forests has led to severe soil erosion and drying up of perennial water resources. Moved by the destruction of essential ecological processes, the youth of Salkani village in Sirsi launched a Chipko movement which was locally known as 'Appiko Chaluvali'. They embraced the trees to be felled by contractors of the forest department. The protest within the forest continued for thirty eight days and finally the felling orders were withdrawn. The success of this agitation spread to other places and the movement has now been launched in eight areas covering the entire Sirsi forest division in Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts. These areas included Mathghatta, Salkani, Balegadde, Husei, Nedgod, Kelgin Jaddi, Vanalli and Andagi, The rapid spread of the movement was based on evidence provided by villagers that the forest department was over-exploiting the forests. Villagers' complaints were later confirmed by official visits by scientists and politicians. In the forest of Kalase, with an area of 151.75 hectares earmarked for selection-cum-improvement felling for the year 198 3 84, a total of 590 trees above the girth limit of 2 metres was earmarked for felling. The Indian Plywood Mills had extracted a total of 125 trees belonging to eight species in the 1982-83 season. Thus a total of 715 trees spread over 151.75 hectares, or 4.05 trees per hectare were to be extracted. With an additional 5 per cent added for damage, the total number expected to be felled was 4.25 trees per hectare.
Representatives of the Lalkhminarasimba Yuvak Mandali who launched the Appiko movement in September 1983 maintained that (a) there was an excessive concentration of trees earmarked for felling in easily accessible areas, and (b) there was excessive damage to trees during the course of felling. In 1 hectare plot sampled it was found that eleven trees had been marked for cutting, out of which eight had been felled. In the process of felling these eight trees, as many as five trees had been damaged. This rapacious destruction of forest resources was undermining the ecological survival of local communities, who finally stopped felling through non-violent direct action- as seen in the case of Chipko.
The objective of the Appiko movement is three-fold. To protect the existing forest cover, to regenerate trees in denuded lands and, last but not least, to utilise forest wealth with due consideration to conservation. All these objectives are implemented through locally established Parisara Samrakshna Kendras (environmental conservation centres).
The Appiko movement has created awareness among villagers throughout the Western Ghats about the ecological destruction of their forest wealth. People now closely monitor the exploitation of forests by the forest department, and have been able to show the discrepancy between professed and actual practice of forest management. In December 1984, villagers of Gerasoppo range of Honavar forest division were able to record the felling practices and damage to forests due to timber exploitation. Their observations were as follows:
Trees are felled in catchment areas of Sharavati river (Honavar forest division on steep slopes).
In evergreen forest areas seven trees were felled in one acre (Marked). Two marked trees (Nos. 542 and 111) felled had a girth of 1.80 metres and 1.50 metres, respectively. Thirty seven trees, with a girth of over 50 ems, and thirty-two trees, with a girth of over 10 cms were damaged.
The distance from tree No. 75 to tree No. 90 which had to he felled was only 4.60 metros.
No lopping was done while felling trees.
Eight trees felled on an 80 degree slope, seven trees felled on a 75 degree slope, and ten trees were felled on the water line.
Dragging of logs was done extensively all over the place.
The top soil up to six inches was ripped off totally by dragging logs. This soil will be carried to the Sharavati river, raise its bed and the water level, and cause floods in an area which receives 250 inches of rainfall every year. Besides destabilising the catchment area, commercial exploitation has also deprived people of their use of forest biomass for basic needs. An 80-year old man, Rama Naik of Mattingadde village, narrated his experience. 'We had enough of medicinal trees. There was enough bamboo and cane for us. But after independence the felling of trees began and now everything is gone. There is no cane left. People's greed to make fast money has ruined us.'
In the context of this conflict between commercial demands and the demands for ecological stability and survival, the Appiko activists believe in the Chipko philosophy that The basic products of the forests in the Western Ghats are soil, water and pure air' which form the basis of life in the Deccan Plateau. They are not fuelwood and timber which are regarded as ultimate products from these forests in the market economy.
Table 4.1 History of Chipko (Appiko Chaluvali) Movement in South India
|Date||Details||Purpose of |
|Local Problerns||Type of Forest||Distance from |
|8 September 1983||150
women and 30 women from |
Salkani, Balegadde, Monondoor.
etc. walked five miles to Kalase-
Kudergod forest.They hugged trees and stopped the axemen. who were felling trees under the orders of the forest department.
|For commercial |
purposes, to ob-
|The only patch |
of forest left nearthese villages to obtain fuelwood
forest invaded byepitorium weed.
|Mixed tropical |
Forest growth in
midst of big
|8||Chipko spreads to South India.|
|Demand of people:otal ban on fellingof green trees.People ready tosacrifice their lives|
|22 September||Forest officials and experts visit the area and spot.||People's senti-
|Forest growth in |
midst of big
|Promise of people 's involvement in felling decisions|
|29 September||FeIling starts again in this forest. |
The people launch the movement
and hug trees.
|People's support total.||Laterite soil.|
|14 Octomber ||The tabourers of' forest contractors |
leave the felling sites.
|For timber.||People are tri- |
on the forest for
bamboo.Wild pigs destroy the crop. Drying up of water resources.
|Mixed tropical |
|40||Movement in |
began on its own!
|16 Octomber |
|Movement started by people in |
Bengaon forest It was launched by
the people spontaneously! Sixty
people most of them tribals hugged
the trees to save them.
movement in Bengaon gains |
momentum. 150 people gather to
support the movement.
|Very sparse |
habitat and gathering of 150 people is a great achievement.
movement begins in Husri |
forest. 100 men and women join
hands and stop felling through
|For timber.||Deciduous forest.village.||Deciduous forest.||36||Appiko initiates people to launch the movement.|
needs of Sirsi town.Clear felling to plant commercial species.
|Monoculture of teak and eucalyptus has
affect ted agricultural yield.Wild pigs haveincreased
innumber.Fuelwoodshortage.Wood for agricultural implements no available.People
Useful to farmers.
|From Sirsi |
|24 October||DFO Range Officer visit
the forest. |
He asks people to abandon the
movement and allow felling.
People protect trees in front of him
by hugging them. They are least
affected by the DFO.
|People carry on Chipko in front of the DFO.|
|11 November||The movement starts in Nidgod |
(Siddapur taluk). 300 people parti-
cipate and stop felling.
|Fuelwood for |
|The only patch of mixed forest left near the vilrage.||Deciduous. |
Slope more than 45°.
|Movement spreads to adjacent taluk. |
Initiative by Appiko organisers.
|IV||Clear felling of |
10 acres to plant monoculture.
|Surrounded by eucalyptus plan- |
Forest growth in stone.
Jaddi forest movement |
launched (Siddapur taluk).
|Plywood raw |
|Obtaining fuel-wood, green manure, fodder,etc., from this forest.||Most deciduous.
neously by thelocal people.
plywood company damaged 542 |
trees in the process of felling 51
|40 km from
|25 November||Movement started in Parsi
300 people stop felling.
|Industrial timber. |
|Meagre forest||Deciduous forest.||52||Spontaneous |
|Vl||30 km from Sirsi.|
|11 December||Movement launched in Bilgal forest. |
201) people (100 women) stop
Clear felling to plans commercial
Fuelwood for Sirsi.
|The only mixed forest left in the area.||Deciduous||12 |
18 km from Sirsi.
|The original seed of
Chipko was |
from this place.