Environmental Movements in India

Environmental or Green or Conservation Movement


  • Social or political movement for conservation or improvement of environment.
  • Centered on ecology, health and human rights.
  • Favour the sustainable management of natural resources via changes in public policy.
  • From Highly organized and formally institutionalized ones to the radically informal activities ,
  • Being local to the almost global.


Major Environmental Movements in India


1. Bishnoi Movement, 1700s  Bishnoi Movement

  • Place: Khejarli, Rajasthan
  • Leaders: Amrita Devi along with Bishnoi villagers in Khejarli
  • Aim: Save sacred trees from being cut down by the king’s soldiers for a new palace.

What was it all about: Amrita Devi, hugged trees & encouraged others to do the same. 363 Bishnoi villagers were killed. The Bishnoi martyrs were influenced by the teachings of Guru Maharaj Jambaji, who founded the Bishnoi faith in 1485 and set forth principles forbidding harm to trees and animals.

The king who came to know about these events rushed to the village and apologized, ordering the soldiers to cease logging operations. Soon afterwards, the Maharajah designated the Bishnoi state as a protected area, forbidding harm to trees and animals. This legislation still exists today in the region.


2. Chipko Movement, Chipko Movement1973

  • Place: In Chamoli district and later at Tehri-Garhwal district of Uttarakhand.
  • Leaders: Sundarlal Bahuguna, Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Negi, Shamsher Singh Bisht and Ghanasyam Raturi.
  • Aim: To protect the trees on the Himalayan slopes from the axes of contractors of the forest.

What was it all aboutMr. Bahuguna enlightened the villagers by conveying the importance of trees in  checking the erosion of soil, cause rains and provides pure air. The women of Advani village of Tehri-Garhwal tied the sacred thread around trunks of trees and they hugged the trees, hence it was called ‘Chipko Movement’ or ‘hug the tree movement’. The main demand of the people in these protests was that the benefits of the forests (especially the right to fodder) should go to local people.


3. Save Silent Valley Movement, 1978  

Silent Valley

  • Place: Silent Valley, an evergreen tropical forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala, India.
  • Leaders: The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) an NGO, and the poet-activist Sughathakumari.
  • Aim: To protect the Silent Valley from destruction by a hydroelectric project.

What was it all about: The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) proposed a hydroelectric dam across the Kunthipuzha River that runs through Silent Valley. Many feared that the project would submerge 8.3 sq km of untouched moist evergreen forest. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi formally inaugurated the Silent Valley National Park.


4. Jungle Bachao Andholan, 1982

Jungle Bachao Andolan 1983

  • Place: Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts  of Karnataka State
  • Leaders: Appiko’s greatest strengths lie in it being neither driven by a personality nor having been formally institutionalised. However, it does have a facilitator in Pandurang Hegde. He helped launch the movement in 1983.
  • Aim: Against the felling and commercialization of natural forest and the ruin of ancient livelihood.

What was it all about: Southern version of the Chipko movement & locally known as “Appiko Chaluvali”. The locals embraced the trees which were to be cut by contractors of the forest department. The Appiko movement used various techniques to raise awareness such as foot marches in the interior forest, slide shows, folk dances, street plays etc. The second area of the movement’s work was to promote afforestation on denuded lands.


6. Narmada Bachao Andholan (NBA),1985

Narmada Bachao Andholan1990’s

  • Place: Bhagirathi River near Tehri in Uttarakhand.
  • Leaders: Sundarlal Bahuguna
  • Aim: The protest was against the displacement of town inhabitants and environmental consequence of the weak ecosystem.
  • Despite the support from other prominent leaders like Sunderlal Bahuguna, the movement has failed to gather enough popular support at national as well as international levels.



  1. Appiko – The Hindu
  2. NBA – The Hindu

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