Famous Environmental Movements in India

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A slight imbalance in nature can cause natural disasters, global warming, deforestation, drought, and similar climate changes.  The world is experiencing massive exploitation of natural resources due to change in lifestyles. The natural balance seems to be disrupted due to such violent activities and unthoughtful human actions have led to conflict within the society. The disagreement upon modernisation in society has also contributed to several serious environmental movements across the world. To curb the ongoing climate crisis and sustain the environment, many movements have taken place in India.  In this blog, we shall enlighten you about the famous environmental movements in India and the importance of National Forest Martyrs day.

Also read: World Nature Conservation Day 2021

National Forest Martyrs Day

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Government of India has declared September 11 as the National Forest Martyrs Day owing to its historical significance to remember those who laid their lives to protect nature. This day is dedicated to the exemplary courage and sacrifice made by the forest personnel in different parts of the country for the protection of our environment and wildlife.


On the 11th of September 1730, around 400 people of the Bishnoi tribe were sacrificed when they objected to the felling of trees by the orders of the king. The tribe was led by Amrita Devi.


The deaths of many people led to the foundation stone of the Memorial Pillar at the memorial site near Brandis Road, Forest Research Institute, Dehradun on 3rd October 2012. Dehradun marks the sacrifices of the fighters who gave their lives while protecting their forest and biodiversity.


This influential movement brought many changes throughout India. The environment ministry with Japan international cooperation agency has initiated projects on capacity development for forest management and training of personnel. This project was launched in 13 states that play a vital role in quantitative and qualitative improvements in environmental systems. The government also supports the frontline staff and their family members associated with environment maintenance.

Also Read: Save Environment Speech

Famous Environmental Movements in India

The environmental movements hold great significance in turning the social and political events in India. The terms such as Green Movement and Conservation Movement are used to denote the same. Some of the major movements observed in India are:

Bishnoi Movement

Source: Civil Hindi Pedia

A very popular movement regarding environmental issues in the 1700s. It took place in the state of Rajasthan in the Marwar region called Khejarli. The purpose of this movement was to prevent the cutting down of trees by the king’s soldiers for building a new palace in the area. The leaders of this movement such as Amrita Devi belonged to the Bishnoi village in the surrounding area. She led the procession towards the forest area and hugged the trees. Others followed her and did the same. Around 363 villagers were killed during this movement.

The Bishnoi faith founded by Guru Maharaj Jambaji in 1485 abided by the principles of unharming the trees and animals. The king later apologised to the villagers and stopped the operations. The legislation was passed to protect the area and it still exists today.

Also Read: Environmental Conservation

Chipko  Movement

Source: World Rainforest Movement

Another sensational environmental movement that took place in India in the year 1973 is the Chipko Movement. The movement took place in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The purpose was to protect the trees on the Himalayan slopes from being cut down by the contractors. The leaders of the Chipko Movement were Sunderlal Bahuguna, Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Govind Singh Rawat, Bachni Devi, Dhoom Singh Negi, Shamsher Singh Bisht, and Ghanshyam Raturi. 

Sunderlal Bahuguna informed the villagers about the importance of trees in the environment. The women of the Advani village tied sacred threads around the tree trunks and hugged the trees. Hence the name of the movement, Chipko movement. The movement became popular in 1978 when women were tortured and faced police firings. The chief minister, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna started a committee to look into the matter and the decision was taken in favour of the villagers. A world popular environmental movement that changed everyone’s perspective regarding environmental issues.

Also Read: How To Become an Environmentalist?

Save Silent Valley Movement

Source: Conservation India

Save Silent Valley Movement came into existence in the year 1978 in the state of Kerala in the silent Valley of India. The movement was led by an NGO group called Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad KSSP. The primary objective of this movement was to protect the silent Valley and the evergreen forest from getting destroyed by a hydroelectric project. An influential role was played by SugathaKumari.

Jungle Bachao Andolan

This movement gained momentum in the year 1982 in the Singhbhum district of Bihar. The people in this region protested against the government’s decision to replace the Sal forest with teak forest. The tribals in the district were completely against this government decision and were also called a greedy game of political populism.

Appiko Movement

“Whose trees are they anyway?”

Source: Business Line

Appiko Movement is one of the famous environmental movements of India that took place in the year 1983 in the state of Karnataka in Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts. The people in this movement were against the commercialisation of natural vegetation and destroying the ancient livelihood. This movement did not have a personality behind it. It had a facilitator named Pandurang Hegde who launched this movement in full swing.

Narmada Bachao Andolan

Source: Janata Weekly

Narmada Bachao Andolan was a social-environmental movement against building large dams across the Narmada river. The movement took place in the year 1985 in the regions of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh through which the Narmada river flowed. The primary leaders in this movement included environmentalists, activists, farmers, Adivasis, and people like Medha Patkar and Baba Amte.

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Tehri Dam Conflict

Source: Branch in the Works

The most recent environmental movement that took place in India was in the year 1990. This protest was against the displacement of local inhabitants and the effect of weak ecosystems on the environment. This conflict occurred in the Tehri region in Uttarakhand near the Bhagirathi river. The popular face of the Chipko movement, Sunderlal Bahuguna was the leader in this movement as well. The movement failed to gain huge support at national and international levels.

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Famous Environmental Movements in the World

The world has also witnessed some striking environmental movements. One of the most powerful movements was the Earth Hour that was initiated by WWF. Over 190 countries and 2 billion people took part in this movement. Some of the famous environmental movements around the world include:

  • Earth Day
  • National Cleanup Day
  • Green Peace
  • Pro-nuclear Movement
  • Deep Ecology
  • Light Green
  • Ecology Movement

Nature plays a vital role in the sustenance of human beings and animals. Plants, trees, and greenery are key to the maintenance of ecology. It is disheartening to see reckless exploitation of natural resources for human greed. Hence, it is high time to raise awareness among people about the importance of the environment and its effect on human lives. For more informative blogs, stay tuned to Leverage Edu!

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