|circa April 1973|
These women gained an enormous victory for their cause when in 1980, because of their protests, there was imposed a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests. The movement has now stopped clear felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas as well as putting pressure on lawmakers to generate policies that are sensitive to the needs of the environment and people.
The very first Chipko movement is a beautiful and sad story. In 1730AD, 363 Bishnois people sacrificed their lives to protect the Khejri tree groves that are sacred to their community even today. Although too late to save those that perished, the Maharaja at the time, after hearing the tragic story, made it a crime punishable by death to cut down Khejri trees. To this day, the Bishnois people are a federal authority against those who break this law.
Maatu hamru, paani hamru, hamra hi chhan yi baun bhi... Pitron na lagai baun, hamunahi ta bachon bhi"
Soil ours, water ours, ours are these forests. Our forefathers raised them, it’s we who must protect them.
-- Old Chipko Song (Garhwali language)