Almost half a century after the launch of the Chipko Movement—one of independent India’s most famous non-violent social movements that drew global attention to the need for protecting forests—Chandi Prasad Bhatt, 89, has vivid memories of the initial days. Ailing but agile, Bhatt, a Padma awardee and associate of the founder of the Chipko movement, Sunderlal Bahuguna, speaks with great difficulty. In fact, his eyes speak more than his words, as do the countless newspaper clippings of the 1973 Chipko movement, iconic photographs, books, journals and articles he’s carefully preserved.
“Developmental priorities of this government are highly ill-conceived. The felling of green forests on the pretext of four-lane highways and dams may have slowed down, but haven’t stopped. The Chipko movement was unique in many ways as it had women outnumbering those who wanted to fell forests. There is no movement parallel to it in the world,” Bhatt says.