Chipko Movement – Gaura Devi & World Environmental Day
Gaura Devi Biography & life
Gaura Devi was born in 1924 in “Lata village” of Uttarakhand. She is considered the mother of the Chipko movement. Gaura was married at the age of just 12 year old to Meherban Singh, a resident of the nearby village of Raini, situated on the banks of the river Alaknanda. Meherban Singh was a farmer and used to rear sheep and trade their wool, these small works used to run his house, But Meherban Singh died untimely after 10 years of marriage and after that Gaura Devi had to raise her child alone and she faced many problems but she did not give up!
After some time Gaura Devi became the President of “Mahila Mandal Dal” of Raini village and she was given the responsibility of taking care of the forest and land property around the village, at that time there were big trees and plants around the village which were all over the place. The area was surrounded and there was greenery all around.
At that time, there was a lot of forest and tree cutting activities was going on in Uttarakhand remote villages and the Government of India had not made any strict law to protect the forests, that is why the forest Mafia used to trade in wood and they used to cut innocent trees. At the same time, in the year 1970, more than 2400 Devdaar (Deodar cedar) trees were marked for cutting in Gaura Devi’s village Raini, so the forest department and contractors were sitting ready to cut the trees and all their preparations were completed and they had reached the forest of Raini village.
But as soon as Gaura Devi & her women friends came to know about this news, Under the leadership of Gaura & Gram Sarpanch, 27 women of Raini village launched a campaign to protect the trees & forest by putting their lives on the line, and Gaura, along with her companions, stuck to the trees and finally the “forest Mafia & Officials” efforts were failed, due to this Gaura Devi came to be known as Chipko Woman in India.
This step of his started the Chipko movement in the entire state of Uttarakhand and many environmentalists like Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sunderlal Bahuguna joined it. Gaura Devi could never go to school in her lifetime, nor was she educated, but the love she had for trees came from her culture and civilization, and because of her love, the Forest Act 1972 came into force in the country.
Gaura Devi died on 4 July 1991 at the age of 66, but even today Gaura is remembered in her area, and on 5th June, Environment Day is celebrated in her name in her area.
A look towards the Chipko Movement
Chipko Andolan is an environmental protection movement. This was done by farmers in the Indian state of Uttarakhand (then part of Uttar Pradesh) to protest the felling of trees. They were opposing deforestation by the state forest department contractors and asserting their traditional rights over them.
This movement started in the year 1970 in the Chamoli district of Uttar Pradesh. Within a decade it had spread to the entire Uttarakhand region. One of the main points of the Chipko movement was that a large number of women participated in it. This movement was started in 1970 under the leadership of India’s famous environmentalists Sunderlal Bahuguna, Govind Singh Rawat, Chandiprasad Bhatt and Smt. Gouradevi. It is also said that Com. Govind Singh Rawat was the practical side of the Chipko movement when Chipko himself was hit in the form of extensive restrictions on the valley of the birthplace of Chipko, then Com. Govind Singh Rawat gave the direction to the snatch movement.
Written By : Mayank Aswal
Follow Writer on Instagram : @Himank.journal