The Chipko spirit is still strong in the Garhwal Himalayas
By Harsh Dobhal
Tehelka, 25 December 2004
Tehri – “We suddenly wondered where the traditional seeds had gone? We realised that what we had won through Chipko, we were losing to new technologies in agriculture”
Thirty years is a long time for any movement to continue. But the famous Chipko movement lives on — thriving and pulsating, challenging and sustaining, albeit in a different form. The men and women who once hugged the trees to save them from commercial felling, continue their struggle against the harbingers of one-dimensional development, to save nature and its children, local diversity and culture. The slogan, “Kya hain jangal ke upkar: pani, mitti aur bayar, ye hain jeene ke aadhar, (What do forests bear: water, soil and air; these are the basis for life),” that reverberated in the Garhwal Himalayas for the world to take notice in the 1970s, is still echoing 30 years on, in the Hewalghati valley of Tehri Garhwal. This time in the form of the Beej Bachao Andolan (Save the Seeds Movement).
India Together, June 2004
Towering pylons and high tension wires seem to discourage any idea of resistance to environmental destruction in Tehri Garhwal, but the villagers persist. Bharat Dogra reports.
June 2004 – Forests once protected by Chipko activists who hugged trees to save them from loggers are now being felled to accommodate pylons that will bring electricity from the massive Tehri hydroelectric project to power-hungry city dwellers in the plains below. When the forest of Advani located in Henvalghati region of Tehri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand faced attacks from the axemen in recent months, activists were reminded, on the eve of World Environment Day, Jun.5, that the last attempt to denude these lush forests happened as far back as 1978 and under very different circumstances.
The Hindu Sunday, Mar 28, 2004
Threatened by limestone quarrying, the people of Hemwalghati launched an agitation to safeguard their livelihood and rights. Kanchi Kohli comments.
“Paharh ki haddi tootegi, desh ki dharti doobegi.” (If the backbone of the hills breaks, the plains below will be submerged).
THE powerful slogan of the famous Chipko Movement was one of the many inspiring ones that echoed in Hemwalghati in December 2001. Hundreds of people marched with their dhols and nagarahs, emotions were loud, strong and actions determined. No way were the residents of Kataldi and neighbouring villages going to allow a mining activity take charge of their lives.
By Kanchi Kohli
Frontline Volume 20 – Issue 20, September 27 – October 10, 2003
There is an urgent need to accord recognition to the traditional wisdom of farmers who persist with retaining biodiversity in agricultural practices in the face of the aggressive promotion of monoculture systems through incentives and subsidies. [more]
By C.S. Lakshmi
The Hindu, Sunday, Sep 07, 2003
IT is amazing how many voices in India are still to be heard and how some people work quietly to allow these voices to emerge. From Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh come the voices from the mountains gathered by a diligent researcher called Indira Ramesh. These are oral testimonies gathered from the 1990s by several interviewers and coordinated by Indira Ramesh. It is a slim book entitled Voices From the Mountains but it is the kind of book that remains with you long after you have read the last page. Through oral testimonies the book tells the story of lives in the villages of Garhwal and Kinnaur in the western Himalaya. Development has brought many changes in these villages, both physical and mental. And with development has come the powerful tool of education. Not that the villagers disapprove of change but education has also meant young people leaving the villages to go to the cities. Mountain farming is left in the hands of the elderly, less educated or those dedicated to their lands. While people from the plains can come up to enjoy the mountains, the mountain people have to go down to the plains to find work. The narrators in this book voice this in many different ways. It is for us to do some introspection about which way development is going. The women who have spoken are illiterate but their words, even in translation, emerge like fresh sprouts from a rich soil.