Environmental movements are a subset of social movements. They bring together a diverse range of individuals, groups, and coalitions who share common interests in environmental protection and work to reform environmental policies and practices. Ecological and environmental movements are notable examples of multiple social groupings acting collectively. Alternatively, the terms ‘green movement’ or ‘conservation movement’ refer to the same thing. Environmental movements advocate for sustainable resource management. Numerous campaigns are centred on environmental issues, public health, and human rights. Environmental movements range in size and structure from highly structured and formally institutionalised to radically casual.
Environmental Movements as a cause:
The spatial extent of many environmental movements varies considerably, from local to nearly global. The rising confrontation with nature, manifested in industrial expansion, deterioration of natural resources, and the incidence of natural disasters, has resulted in biospheric system instabilities. The following are the primary factors for the establishment of environmental movements in India:
- Containment of natural resources
- Government’s erroneous developmental policies
- Natural resource exploitation for non-commercial purposes
- Human rights/social justice
- Socioeconomic considerations
- Degradation/destruction of the environment and
- Environmental education and media
What are the well-known Environmental Movements in India?
Numerous environmental movements have sprung up in India, particularly since the 1970s. These movements grew out of a succession of autonomous responses to local challenges in various locations and eras.
The Movement of the Silent Valley:
The silent valley is situated in Kerala’s Palghat district. It is bordered by the State’s many hills. The British devised the plan of a dam on the river Kunthipuzha in this hill system in 1929. The technical feasibility study was completed in 1958, and the project was approved by the Government of India’s Planning Commission in 1973.
In 1978, an outpouring of opposition to the idea erupted from all quarters of the population. Local residents launched the effort, which was eventually taken over by the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP). Numerous environmental organisations engaged in the campaign, including the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), and the Silent Valley Action Forum.
Amrita Devi led this movement, wherein around 363 people gave their lives to safeguard their forests. This was the first campaign of its sort to organically evolve the concept of embracing trees for their preservation.
Narmada Bachao Andolan:
Narmada is one of the Indian Peninsula’s major rivers. The scope of the Sardar Sarovar project, a Narmada terminal reservoir in Gujarat, is, in fact, the crux of the Narmada Water dispute.
The Chipko Revolution:
The Chipko Movement began on April 24, 1973, in Mandal, Chamoli district, Uttarakhand’s Garhwal division. The Chipko is one of India’s most well-known environmental movements.
The movement arose as a result of ecological destabilisation in the mountains. The decline in forest productivity forced hill dwellers to rely just on the market-, which became a primary worry for the residents. Forest resource exploitation was blamed for natural disasters such as floods and landslides. On March 27, the decision was made to ‘Chipko,’ which translates as ‘to embrace,’ the trees threatened by the axe. Therefore, the chipko Andolan (movement) was created. This method of protest was critical in discouraging private firms from cutting ash trees.
It is influenced by the Chipko movement among the Western Ghats’ people. Western Ghats people, the Appiko Chaluvali movement began in September – November 1983 in the Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka.
The forest was destroyed in this area due to commercial tree harvesting for timber extraction. The contractors removed the region’s natural trees, resulting in soil erosion and the depletion of perennial water resources. In Sirsi’s Saklani village, forest residents were prohibited from collecting usufructs such as twigs and dried branches and non-timber forest products for use as fuelwood, fodder, and honey. They had their conventional rights to these things revoked.
In September 1983, women and youth from the region resolved to establish a Chipko-like movement in South India. The movement lasted 38 days, forcing the state government to finally yield to their requests and rescind the order authorising tree removal.
Jungle Bachao Andolan:
In the 1980s, the Jungle Bachao Andolan began in Bihar’s Singhbhum region (presently in Jharkhand). It was a protest against the government’s plans to replace native Sal forests with commercial teak plantations.
This decision has the greatest impact on the tribal community because it violates the rights and livelihoods of Adivasis in that region. This movement took many forms in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha.
Tehri Dam Uprising (the 1990s):
Tehri dam was proposed on the Bhagirathi river in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal district. The region’s seismic vulnerability and subsidence of forest regions were major concerns. The movement was unable to garner sufficient support.
Environmental movements’ significance in Independent India:
- Increasing public awareness: These movements were crucial in increasing public awareness of the critical nature of balancing environment and development.
- Participatory development: These movements aided model projects that paved the way for non-bureaucratic, society natural resource management systems.
- Fight for local rights: These movements are vital for indigenous rights, particularly access to forest resources.
- Ecological health: These movements are critical for preventing land degradation, cultural displacement, and ecological restoration, central concerns.
Local communities rely on forest resources for their livelihoods. Environmental movements are critical for preserving their livelihoods and preventing the exploitation of natural resources for non-commercial purposes.
Environmental movements advocate for sustainable resource management. Numerous campaigns are centred on environmental issues, public health, and human rights. These movements range in size and structure from highly structured and formally institutionalised to radically casual.