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Emergence of Environmental Movements in India

Environmental movements of various countries have emerged due to different reasons. It is basically due to
prevailing environmental quality of the locality. The environmental movements in the north are basically on
the issue of quality of life. Whereas the environment movements in the south arise due to some other
reasons, such as due to conflicts for controling of natural resources and many more. It is being said that
the, environmental movements in U.S.A arises, hen the boo! silent spring ritten by "achel #arson came
in the mar!et in the year $%&'. In this boo! she had ritten about the impacts of poisonous chemicals,
particularly the ((T on the environment. This boo! had raised the public consciousness. And it leads to the
emergence of environmental movements in the U.S.A. The participants of these movements in )orth are the
middle class and upper class people, ho have concern for the nature. *ut in the south the protesters are
generally the marginal population + hill peasants, tribal communities, fishermen and other underprivileged
people. The different environmental movements in our own country support this argument. The
examples could be taken as Chipko, .!.". , Mitti !achao "ndolan, #oel$#aro "ndolan etc. That is
why the environmentalism of the orth is refereed as %full stomach& environmentalism and the
environmentalism of the south is called as %empty ' belly& environmentalism. ,eol-!aro a proposed
pro.ect to generate /$0 megaatts of poer by building to dams across the ,oel and the ,aro rivers and a
connecting channel. The pro.ect as proposed in $%/1, and protests began immediately by people li!ely to
be displaced. The movement against the dam became part of the larger movement for creation of a separate
2har!hand state. It is idely cited as the longest and the most successful anti-dam movement in India, rooted
entirely in the highly mobilised 3unda society

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#ontrol over natural resources is an important reason for emergence of environmental movement in India.
Some good e4amples of these !inds of movements are li!e #hip!o and ).*.A.5narmada bachao andolan6 In
the first case, the reason for conflict as control over forest7 hereas, in the second the reason as control
over ater. 8et9s have a loo! on the reasons behind the emergence of #hip!o movement in the :arhal
The movement started in the :arhal ;imalaya in April $%/1. *eteen $%/1 and $%<0, over a do=en
instances ere recorded here, through an innovative technique of protest, illiterate peasants, men, omen
and children- threatened to hug forest trees rather than allo then to be logged for e4port. )otably the
peasants ere not interested in saving the trees per se, but in using their produce for agricultural and
household requirements. In later years, hoever the movement turned its attention to broader ecological
concerns, such as the collective protection and management of forest, and the diffusion of reneable energy
The #hip!o movement as the forerunner of and in some cases the direct inspiration for a series of popular
movements in defense of community rights to natural resources. Sometimes these struggles resolved around
forest and in other instances, around the control and use of pasture, ater, and mineral or fish resources.
3ost of these conflicts have pitted rich against poor> 8ogging companies against hill villagers, dam builders
against forest tribal communities, multinational corporations deploying tralers against traditional fisher
fol! in small boats. ;ere one party 5e.g. loggers or tralers6 see! to setup the pace of resource e4ploitation
to service an e4panding commercial + industrial economy. A process hich often involves the partial, or
total dispossession of these communities ho earlier had control over the resources in question, and hose
on patterns of utili=ation ere less destructive of the environment.
?ne important factor is that those poor peoples are solely dependent upon those natural resources for there
survival hood. So, the changes in control of resources directly hamper their subsistence economy due to
hich their survival hood came in danger. Therefore the protest of the people rise against those outsiders,
hich had ultimately ta!en the shape of environmental movement in many instances.
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8et9s see the political scenario of the country after independence7 it ill anser some part of our question.
After independence in $%@/ people have great e4pectation from the indigenous government, it as assumed
that the ne government hich as more aare of the Indian problems and as equally concerned for the
people ould definitely see! to eradicate all problems, ith the installation of ne government under the
leadership of )ehru , ith the observations of industriali=ations raised hopes but the government policies
ere only for industriali=ation ithout loo!ing the environment and equal sharing of natural resources.
The governmental policies resulted into a lot of displacement of people due to large pro.ects such as dams
li!e *ha!ra + )angal and many others. These policies pushed the local people on the edges more often than
not, the agents of resource intensification are given preferential treatment by the states through the grant of
generous long leases over mineral or fish stoc!s, e.g., or the provision of ra materials at an enormously
subsidised prices, ith the in.ustice so compounded local communities at the receiving end of this process
have no recourse e4cept direct actions, resisting both the state and out side e4ploiters through a variety of
protest techniques. So e can say these struggles might perhaps as seen as manifestation a ne !ind of
Atraditional9 class conflict ere fought in the cultivated field or in the factory, these ne struggles are
aged over gifts of nature such as forests, and aters, gifts that are coveted by all but increasingly
monopoli=ed by a fe.
If e tal! in e4plicitly ecological terms then e can say that history of development in India can be
interpreted as being, in essence, a process of resources capture by the omnivorous 5individuals and groups
ith the social poer to capture, transform and use natural resources from a much ider catchment area6 at
the e4panse of ecosystem people 5those communities hich depend very heavily on the natural resources of
their on locality6. So, e can say the environmental movement is the resistance offered by ecosystem
people to the resource capture by omnivorous> as embodied in movements against large dams by tribal
communities to be displaced by them or struggles by peasants against diversion of forests and gra=ing land
to industry.
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The other angles by hich e loo! upon the cause of emergence of environmental movements are the
socio-economic reasons. Almost most of the environmental movements in India are some ho related ith
this aspect, also, if e see the location here these movements have started then e ould found that most
of these areas are tribal dominated. These people have strong beliefs regarding their forests, land and ater.
At the same time they are also totally dependent upon these resources for their survival hood. Therefore,
hen these forests or other sources of livelihood get disturbed by the outsiders, their socio-economic
conditions get hampered and the ultimate recourse is the movement against those people ho ere
harnessing those resources. Also, omen had generally played an important role in these movements, in
tribal groups7 omen are accustomed to responsibility and leadership for community survival. There or!
involves them directly and daily ith forests and natural resources. So, henever their survival came into
ris!, they ta!e the lead role for the protection of their community and its resources.
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Environmental degradation is also an important cause hich many time leads to environmental movement.
?ne such e.g. as the silent valley case. ;ere the proposed dam by the ,erala State Electricity *oard as
supposed to submerge a large tract of virgin forest. Those are one of the fe virgin rain forests left in the
country. So, the local people of vicinity along ith the ).:.?.s resisted this move. In this movement the
,.S.S.B. also get help from scientist community of India and abroad. And the result as ithdraal of this
pro.ect by the government.
?ne another e.g. of movement hich arose due to the degradation of local environment as the movement
against the limestone quarrying, in the (oon Calley in the late $%/0s and early $%<0s.In this case the retired
officials and e4ecutives of the locality formed the Afriends of the (oon9 and the ASave 3ussoorie9
committees to safeguard the habitat of the valley. They ere .oined by hotel oners in 3ussoorie, ho ere
orried about the impacts of environmental degradation on the tourist in-flo in this ell !non A hill
station.9 They used different techniques of resistance. Dinally they put a Bublic Interest 8itigation 5 BI8 6
that resulted in a landmar! .udgment of the Supreme #ourt, recommending the closure of all si4 limestone
mines in the (oon Calley.
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The spread of environmental aareness and media has also played pivotal role in emergence of
environmental movement. Beople ere previously unaare of the importance of the environment. *ut as the
environmental aareness increased due various reasons people started protecting their environment. Some
e.g. are the local movements to protect the purity of different rivers such as :anga and Eamuna. The
greening of many Indian cities also comes under this category. The *hagidari movement of (elhi is a good
e.g. ?f this !ind of environmental movement. 3edia has also played an important role in sustaining theses
)o on the above arguments the conclusion could be dran that the nature based conflicts, the false
developmental policies of the government, the marginali=ation of the tribal and other underprivileged
groups and the environmental degradation are the root causes of emergence of environmental movements in
India. The lopsided, inequitous, and environmentally destructive processes of development have propelled
the people to go against the state in many cases and this leads to the emergence of environmental
movements in the country. The ris!s on the survival hood of the marginal people due to the above
mentioned factors had resulted in the emergence of these movements. Therefore the point comes that the
environmental movements in different parts of the country gros out of the distribution conflict over the
ecological resources needed for livelihood. So e can conclude that environmental movements in India are
the resistances by the people for their livelihood and for their survival