Silent Valley Movement: About Save Silent Valley Movement, Short Note

By K Balaji|Updated : October 27th, 2022

Silent Valley Movement was an anti-state movement to save Silent Valley, a tropical evergreen forest in Kerala's Palakkad district. The movement was founded in 1973 to prevent a hydroelectric project from flooding and harming the Silent Valley Reserve Forest and its biodiversity.

The study of wildlife, biodiversity, and ecology is significantly influenced by the steps taken to safeguard endangered animals worldwide. It is an important component of UPSC GS 2. In the UPSC exam, questions about the Silent Valley Movement and the events that led to a successful movement have regularly been asked in the Prelims and Mains exam. Candidates can also download the Silent Valley movement PDF from the link provided below.

Table of Content

What is Silent Valley?

The silent valley is a tropical evergreen forest area located in Kerala. It is one of India's last remaining portions of virgin tropical evergreen forest and is extremely biodiverse. Environmentalists and residents were outraged when a hydroelectric power project was proposed in 1973.

Silent Valley Movement PDF

In 1985, the government was forced to declare it a national reserve forest due to public pressure. It was then named the silent valley national park. This national park is home to the most species of lion-tailed macaques in India, which is also a critically endangered animal.

Save Silent Valley Movement

The Silent Valley is well-known for its rare animal and bird species. Because this forest is lushly forested and has a huge area under vegetation, there is no loud sound in the forest apart from that of some birds and insects, which is why this valley is identified as Silent Valley. This Valley covers a surface area of 90 square kilometers. The Kunthipura river passes through the Silent Valley. This runs for about 15 kilometers and falls from an altitude of 2400 meters. According to mythology, the Pandavas are said to have chosen to settle in the silent valley after losing their empire and land.

  • The silent valley movement arose in response to the official statement of the construction of a dam on Kunthipura's upper stream, also called the silent valley project.
  • The first survey was conducted by the state government in 1958.
  • The dam over the top stream, according to British technicians, can help generate hydroelectricity.
  • The planning commission gave its approval in 1973. The project's main goal was to produce 120 megawatts of electrical power and water to yield 240 megawatts of electric power.
  • In 1976, a bunch of environmentalists began to oppose the silent valley project.
  • A task force was set up under the presidency of the then Vice-President of the World Wildlife Fund India.
  • The task force continued to work for over a year and conducted several surveys that recommended that the project be halted.
  • The task force's report stated that the project's construction will lead to significant harm to the green cover. It will eventually harm flora and fauna, as well as the water. This will result in high-scale forest disasters.
  • This report also advised that in case the government is compelled to construct the dam, then they must also adhere to the 17 recommendations outlined in the given report.
  • In 1979, the task force's leader admitted that the initial report was a blunder and made a plea to the government to cease the project entirely.

Outcome of Silent Valley Movement

The silent valley movement played a vital role in saving the valley from biodiversity damage. The effect that the silent valley movement had is explained below:

  • The movement was initiated by Kerala Sasthra Sathiya Parishad (KSSP), which was an NGO along with being Kerala's biggest science organization.
  • The proposal to ban the project was welcomed by the state government, and the KSSP began a massive signature campaign to prevent its construction.
  • The legislative assembly then approved the project. The KSSP released a guidebook titled "The Silent Valley Movement Hydroelectric Project: A Techno-economic and Sociopolitical Assessment."
  • The state government was instructed to abandon the project in 1979 by India's then-prime minister.

Short Note on Silent Valley Movement

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) put forward a proposal to build a dam over the Kunthipuzha River, which flows through the Silent Valley in Kerala. The Planning Commission then gave its approval to this project in 1973 in the month of February, at an estimated budget of 25 crore rupees. Quite a few people were worried that the project might dilute 8.3 square kilometers of untouched evergreen forest. Numerous non-governmental organizations firmly condemned the proposal and demanded that the government take it back.

Indira Gandhi announced that Silent Valley would be safeguarded in January 1981 in reply to uncompromising public pressure. The Central government re-examined the matter in the month of June 1983 with the help of a commission presided over by Prof. M.G.K. Menon. The Silent Valley Hydroelectric Project was dropped in November 1983. The Silent Valley National Park was officially inaugurated in 1985 by then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Silent Valley Movement UPSC

The silent valley movement is an important segment of the General studies in UPSC syllabus. In order to completely learn about the silent valley Andolan, it is crucial to know about the ecological importance of the silent valley and the role of various environmentalists in order to stop the silent valley project from getting accomplished. You should also consume the UPSC study material offered on a daily basis to get a good hold on the type of questions asked in the exam.

Silent Valley Movement UPSC Question

Question: The “save silent valley movement” was a widespread movement that took place in order to save the dense flora and fauna of which of the following Indian states?

  1. Punjab
  2. Kerala
  3. Uttarakhand
  4. Tamil Nadu

Answer: (B) Kerala

Important Notes for UPSC
Panchsheel AgreementRegional Parties in India
ConstitutionalismBird Sanctuary in India
Chalukya DynastySkill India Mission

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FAQs on Silent Valley Movement

  • The silent valley movement was a widespread movement that took place in 1973 against the building of a dam across the Kunthipuzha River, which flows through the Silent Valley in Kerala. Multiple non-governmental organizations strongly disagreed with the plan and started demanding that the government retract it. In response to intense community outcry, in January 1981, Indira Gandhi confirmed that the Silent Valley would be protected.  The Silent Valley National Park was officially inaugurated in 1985 by then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

  • The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) put forward a proposal to build a dam. This dam was to be built across the Kunthipuzha River, which flows through the Silent Valley in Kerala.

  • Following are the events from the silent valley movement that took place in October 1976: 

    • The National Committee on Environment Planning and Coordination (NCEPC) establishes a task force, presided by Zafar Futehally, to investigate the ecological issues that the project may cause. 
    • The project's progress had been halted until the results of the task force's impact assessment. 
    • The Task Force suggested that the construction be canceled. 
    • It did, however, include a provision that stated that scrapping the project was not an option, instead, a series of safeguards must be implemented. 
    • Predictably, the Kerala government chose to move forward with the project while pledging to enforce all protective measures.
  • Following are the events from the silent valley movement that took place in January 1981: 

    • Indira Gandhi, in response to unending public pressure, announced that Silent Valley would be kept safe.
    • However, when the original documents were analyzed, it was discovered that the region under the hydroelectric project was not actually protected.
    • When the public realized this, hundreds of protest telegrams were addressed to the Central Government. NGOs, esteemed scientists and scholars, and ordinary citizens were putting additional pressure on the government.
  • Steven Green was a New York Zoological Society scientist who studied primates in Silent Valley, particularly the lion-tailed macaque. Green was concerned about the project's potential threats to the rare and endemic macaque species. Simultaneously, herpetologist Rom Whitaker revealed Silent Valley to survey the region's snakes. He wrote to the Bombay Natural History Society regarding the importance of preserving the Valley. Reports such as these served as a warning to other biologists.

  • The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) was a mass campaign that started in 1985 to confront the lack of adequate resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) policy for about 250,000 people who were displaced in the process of construction of large dams along the river Narmada. The Narmada Dharangrast Samiti, or the Committee for Narmada Dam-Affected People, was renamed NBA in 1989.

    On the other hand, the Silent Valley Movement was a large-scale protest against the construction of a dam across the Kunthipuzha River, which travels through Kerala's Silent Valley. Various non-governmental organizations publicly criticized the project and demanded the government pull it back. Indira Gandhi declared Silent Valley would be protected in January 1981 in response to uncompromising public pressure.

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