List of Environmental Movements in India – Causes, Importance, Impact

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Environmental Movement in India: An environmental movement is a social or political movement aimed at preserving or improving the state of the environment. It is usually supported by individuals or groups with a common ideology and motivation to protect the environment. The aim of such movements is to bring sustainable and productive environmental policy changes. They work towards protecting natural resources from exploitation.

The terms ‘green movement’ and ‘conservation movement’ are used interchangeably to describe the environmental movements in India. Some well-known green movements are the Chipko Movement and Silent Valley Movement. Various environmental movements have a spatial span that ranges from local to virtually global. Below mentioned is the compilation of the major Environmental Movements in India and their impact.

Environmental Movements in India

An Environmental Movement focuses on the sustainable use of resources and is one of the best examples of social activism. It is designed in a way that allows the public to learn and participate in conservation activities. It is important to be aware of the Environmental Movements in India because of their importance and impact on the surroundings.

Environmental Movement in India UPSC Notes

To combat rapid industrialization, these movements mobilized crowds to protect the environment against exploitation. These movements have played a crucial role in ensuring that the natural balance is maintained.

List of Environmental Movements in India

There have been several environmental movements in India. Even before independence, there were several movements that were led by activists to protect the environment. The environmental movements after Indian independence gained a lot of adhesion as well.

List of Environmental Movements in India
Year Environmental Movements Leaders Place
1730 Bishnoi Movement Amrita Devi Khejarli and Marwar, Rajasthan
1973 Chipko Movement Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Sunderlal Bahuguna Chamoli, Uttarakhand
1978 Silent Valley Project Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad Sugathakumari

Later, Rajiv Gandhi launched the Silent Valley National Park after the project broke off in 1985.

Kantipur River, Kerala
1982 Jangal Bachao Andolan Tribals of Singhbhum Singhbhum, Bihar
1983 Appiko Movement Lakshmi Narasimha Yuvak Mandali Pandering Hgde Karnataka
1980s-1990s Tehri Dam Movement Tehri Bandh Virodhi Sangharsh Committee, Sunderlal Bahuguna, and Veera Dutt Saklani Bhagirathi and Bhilangama rivers at Tehri in Uttarakhand
1980s Narmada Bachao Andolan Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Sunderlal Bahuguna, Baba Amte Gujarat, Madhya

Pradesh and Maharashtra

Note: Total 33 dams;

2 main are Sardar Sarovar Dam, and Indira Sagar Project

Recent Environmental Movements in India

The phase of the environmental movement in India began in the 1970s. With the global focus on conserving the environment with the SDG and the Paris Agreement, India has also seen some latest green movements, even at the grassroots level. Some of the latest ones are as follows.

Year Environmental Movement Led by Place
2019 Climate Action Strike Greta Thunburg, Bittu KR Students in metro cities in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai
2019 Right to Breathe Protest Leonardo De Caprio India Gate, New Delhi
2020 Save Dehing- Patkai All India Assam Student Union (AASU) and All Assam Matak Youth Students’ Union Tinsukia, Assam
2019-20 Save Aarey Online campaign #SavetheSunderbans Sunderbans are the largest mangrove forests in the world, located in the delta region of the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers

Major Environmental Movements in India

There are several critical Environmental Movements in India. Analyzing these movements will be helpful in understanding the history of environmental movements in India and their progression. The major environmental movements in India are:

  • Bishnoi Movement
  • Chipko Movement
  • Appiko Movement
  • Jungle Bachao Andolan
  • Tehri Dam Conflict
  • Silent Valley Movement
  • Narmada Bachao Movement

1. Bishnoi Movement

Bishnoi is a religious community found in the northern states of India, predominantly in the Western Thar Desert. This sect was founded by Guru Maharaj Jambaji in around 1485 AD in the Marwar region of western Rajasthan, India. It is known to be a community that values peace and nature. In 1700 AD, a movement to prevent deforestation was started by sage Sombaji.

Amrita Devi then forwarded the movement. A demonstration resulted in the deaths of 363 members of the Bishnoi community. When the king realized the extent of harm done, he rushed to the village and apologized. He declared the forests as a protected area and to this day, this arrangement is in place.

2. Chipko Movement

Chipko Movement is one of the major conservation movements in India, which began in 1973 in Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district. The effort aimed to stop unlawful tree-cutting in the Himalayan region (Uttarakhand). The movement’s leaders were Sunderlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt. Women’s engagement was one of the most prominent features of this movement.

3. Appiko Movement

Pandurang Hegde started the Appiko Movement in Karnataka in 1983, modelled after the Chipko Movement. Its primary goals were afforestation, development, conservation, and the best possible use of forests. The word “Appiko” means “to embrace” and means “to express one’s love for a tree.

4. Jungle Bachao Andolan

In 1982, the tribe of Jharkhand’s Singhbhum area protested the government’s forest policy. The government wanted to use high-priced teak to replace natural soil and forests. Many environmentalists called this movement the “Greed Game Political Populism”.

5. Tehri Dam Conflict

Locals began this movement in the 1980s and 1990s because the dam project would be built in a seismically vulnerable area. They believed it would result in submerging forest regions and the Tehri town. Despite the protests, the dam was built under police protection while Sunderlal Bahuguna sat on a death fast.

Bahuguna terminated his fast after receiving assurances from the government that the project would be reviewed, but work continued at a reduced rate.

6. Silent Valley Movement

Kerala is a tropical evergreen forest with many biodiversities. Environmentalists and residents were outraged when a hydel power plant was built here in 1973. In 1985, the government was forced to proclaim it a national reserve forest due to public outcry.

7. Narmada Bachao Movement

Since 1985, environmentalists and residents have been protesting against the construction of dams on the Narmada to develop hydroelectricity. This gave rise to the Narmada Bachao Aandolan. This Andolan was led by Medha Patkar, who received backing from Arundhati Roy, Baba Amte, and Aamir Khan.

Several Environmental Movements in India have changed how the environment is handled in the country. You should be aware of these movements as they are crucial for India. Several grass-roots environmental movements have sprung up in response to development activities that have jeopardized the ecological balance, resulting in a shift in public policy favouring the environment.

Chipko Movement

Chipko Movement is one of the most influential environmental movements in India. Sundarlal Bahuguna along with Chandi Prasad Bhatt started this movement in 1973 to protect the forests of the Garhwal region in the state of Uttarakhand.

It was also known as Chipko Andolan wherein villagers, mainly women, protected the forests by hugging the trees so they wouldn’t be axed. It was a non-violent protest which aimed to prevent the logging of trees sanctioned by the government.

  • The slogan used during this protest was “Ecology is the permanent economy” created by Bahuguna.
  • The Chipko movement had a powerful impact and ended up changing government policies.
  • It led to the adoption of the Forest Protection Act of 1980. Also, amendments were made to the Indian Forest Act of 1927.
  • The Chipko Movement was a major step towards stopping the commercialization of forests.

Green Movement in India

The Green movement is a recent development in India. The aim of this movement is to promote sustainable and environment-friendly practices among the general population. The Green Movement in India has launched initiatives to lower the pollution levels that arise from activities like transport, construction, etc.

Due to excess pollution, there are various health as well as ecological issues, this movement tries to find a resolution for such issues. The green movement is sometimes referred to as the conservative movement. It extends the scope of this movement to conservation and mindful utilization of resources to protect the environment.

Grassroots Environmental Movement in India

The Environmental Movement in India usually involves people that have been a victim of environmental degradation. Therefore, the green movements take place at the grass root level. Some of the best examples of the Environment Movement in India at the grassroots level, along with their related issues, are as follows.

  • Protection of marine resources: Chilka Bachao Andolan, Orissa;
  • Industrial pollution: Zahiro Gas Morcha, Bhopal Ganga Mukti Andolan Green Movement against poisoning of Chaliyar River in Kerala;
  • Mining: Anti-Bauxite mine movement, Orissa.

Causes of Environmental Movement in India

Environment Movements in India began after a significant rise in pollution was observed. As industrialization increased, it had an adverse impact on the earth’s resources and quality. Apart from this, the various causes of environmental movement in India are provided below:

  • Increased industrialization led to the degradation of natural resources;
  • Hampering with the land to build factories and dams led to many natural disasters and calamities;
  • Imbalances in environment and biospheres due to human activity;
  • Increased pollution and subsequent health issues in people;
  • Loss of land and rights of the tribal population;
  • Unequal distribution of resources leads to loss of livelihood.

Importance of Environmental Movements in India

Environmental movements in India play a significant role in the conservation of resources. These movements are necessary to ensure the protection of the environment. The importance of environmental movements in India is explained below:

  • These movements are effective in stopping harmful government policies;
  • They play a significant role in stopping the degradation of land and resources;
  • They ensure people who have rights over the land are able to exercise them and do not get exploited for the sake of industrialization;
  • Environmental movements help in spreading awareness about the various policies that threaten the environment;
  • These movements are important from the perspective of Human Rights and Social Justice.

Environmental Movements in India UPSC

Environmental Movements are social movements that aim to protect the environment and natural resources. In India, the first environmental movement was the Bishnoi Movement led by Amrita Devi. Other major environmental movements in India include Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chipko Movement, Silent Valley Movement, Jungle Bachao Movements, etc.

Environmental movements in India are crucial and an often-asked topic that is included in the Geography syllabus fur UPSC. Many toppers, like Pratham Kaushik, have scored the highest marks (327 marks out of 500) in Geography optional subject as it is quite interesting and easy to grasp. Students can refer to any one of the UPSC Environment Books to cover the topic thoroughly.

Environmental Movements in India MCQs

Question: Who among the following was associated with Bishnoi movement? (A) Govind Singh Rawat, (B) Gaura Devi, (C) Shamsher Singh Bisht, (D) Amrita Devi
Answer: Amrita Devi

Question: Which of the following was started in 1973 to save the evergreen tropical forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala, India from being flooded by a hydroelectric project? (A) Appiko Movement, (B) Chipko Movement, (C) Jungle Bachao Andola, (D) Silent Valley Movement
Answer: Silent Valley Movement

Question: Which environmental movement refers to as Greed Game Political Populism by the environmentalists? (A) Jungle Bachao Andola, (B) Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), (C) Silent Valley Movement, (D) Appiko Movement
Answer: Jungle Bachao Andola

Question: Consider the statement (s) is/are related to the Chipko Movement: (II) The movement was to prevent illegal cutting of trees in the Himalayan region (Uttarakhand), (II) It was launched from Gopeshwar in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand in 1973 – (A) Both I and II, (B) Only II, (C) Only I, (D) Neither I nor II
Answer: Both I and II

UPSC Notes
New Economic Policy Genetic Engineering
India China Relations Economic Growth and Development
Pallava Art and Architecture Competition Commission of India
Article 12 Article 370
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Marginal Standing Facility Rate
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