Course Content
Private: BA Arabic
About Lesson

Unit 3

Need for Public Awareness on Aspects

Related to Environment

Learning Outcomes

  • Understands the fragility of our environment and the importance of its protection
  • Develops awareness of and concern for environmental issues among the general public worldwide
  • Learns to embrace and protect the trees and to resist deforestation
  • Learns to conserve the ecological biodiversity


All of us look at Baba Amte, Sunder lal Bahuguna and Medha Patkar with reverence. Why? They have been responsible for movements against environmental destruction.

It is very important that we have an awareness and sensitivity to the total environment and its related problems.

Some of movements for the protection of Nature and forest in India include Chipko Movement, Save Silent Valley Movement, Jungle Bachao Andholan, Appiko Movement and Narmada Bachao Andholan (NBA).

Do you know the origin of the word ―Chipko‖? ―Chipko‖ comes from the word ‖embrace‖, Chipko Movement was initiated for the protection of trees.

Nature can only be protected and preserved by the combined and coordinated action of the people.

Key words

Environmental awareness, Environmental movements, Chipko movement, Narmada Bachao Andholan


Why is environmental awareness important? Why are environmental movements important?

Mother Nature is the environment, and we must respect her in order to preserve our own way of life. In their own surroundings, all living and non-living things are constantly interacting with one another. Nothing can exist without environment. Particularly, hu-mans cannot thrive in the absence of an environment. Mankind and the environment are mutually dependent. The state of the environment is greatly impacted by human activity, which also has an impact on the general advancement of our society. In terms of physical, chemical, and biological aspects, the environment has both natural and artificial components. Over time, natural changes take place, whereas man-made changes are mostly the result of scientific and technological advancements based on human activity.

Environmental awareness is critical because it can help to minimise pollution and global warming. It can also lead to a more sustain-able world by promoting renewable resources such as solar, wind and water. The most crucial thing that environmental awareness accomplishes is educating people about the risks of maintaining our current level of consumption. This is so that people can properly see the extent of the harm and the threats facing our planet. As a result, awareness is focused on issues like global warming, sustainable development, and environmental health.

3.3.1 Need for public awareness

Since our environment is also getting degraded due to human activities, we need to do something about it to sustain the quality. We frequently believe that the government ought to implement suitable measures. But all of us are equally responsible to protect our environment. The future of humanity is primarily concerned with public environmental awareness. It ranks among the most significant markers of a nation’s civilization. It represents a variety of environmental circumstances, including knowledge, actions, and attitudes toward a sustainable society. The degree to which the general public is aware of the significance and ramifications of a certain programme or activity is known as public awareness. Increasing public knowledge is not the same as directing the people’s behaviour. It involves educating people about topics and providing information so that they can decide for themselves. Both print media and electronic media can strongly influence public opinion. Politicians should respond positively to a strong publicly supported activity. NGOs can take an active role in creating awareness from grass root levels to the top-most policy decision makers.

Public awareness of the environment is the ability to understand the surrounding world, including understandings of all the changes occurring in the environment, understanding of cause- and-effect relationships between the quality of the environment and human behaviour, and a sense of responsibility to pre-serve them.

3.3.2 Environmental movements in India

An environmental movement is a social or political movement for the conservation of environment or improvement of the state of the environment. The terms “green movement” or “conservation movement” are alternatively used to denote the same concept. The environmental movements favour the sustainable management of natural resources. The movements often stress the protection of the environment via changes in public policy. Many movements are centred on ecology, health and human rights. Environmental movements range from the highly organized and formally institutionalized ones to the radically informal activities. The spatial scope of various environmental movements range from being local to almost global.

Environmental and public health struggles are ongoing within India. In order to promote small industries for rural villages using local resources, environmentalist and Gandhian social Activist, Chandi Prasad Bhatt established a cooperative organisation called Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (later renamed Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal [DGSM]). It was inaugurated by Sucheta Kriplani and founded on land donated by Shyma Devi. The Chipko movement, which started in 1974, was finally launched in response to this endeavour.

3.3.3 Major Environmental Movements in India

The major environmental movements in India during the period up to 2000 are the following.

  1. Chipko Movement
  2. Save Silent Valley Movement
  3. Jungle Bachao Andholan
  4. Appiko Movement
  5. Narmada Bachao Andholan (NBA) Chipko Movement

What is meant by Chipko, the name of the movement? Chipko comes from the word “embrace”, as the villagers hugged the trees and encircled them to prevent them from being hacked down. The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan, was a forest conservation movement in India. It began in 1973 in Khumtung (at the foothills of Himalayas), Mizoram, and then a part of Uttar Pradesh and went on to be-come a rallying point for many later environ-mental movements all over the world. It created a precedent for starting nonviolent protest in India. However, it was Sunderlal Bahuguna, a Gandhian activist, who gave the movement a proper direction and its success meant that the world immediately took notice of this non- violent movement, which was to inspire in time many similar eco-groups by helping to slow down the rapid deforestation, expose vested interests, increase social awareness and the need to save trees, increase ecological awareness, and demonstrate the viability of people‘s power. He used the slogan “Ecology is the permanent economy”. Above all, it stirred up the existing civil society in India, which began to address the issues of tribal and marginalized people. The Chipko Andolan or the Chipko movement is a movement that practiced methods of Satyagraha where both male and female activists from Uttarakhand played vital roles, including Gaura Devi, Suraksha Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi and Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Virushka Devi and others. And it is true that the support for the movement came mainly from the womenfolk.


In 1987, the Chipko movement was awarded the Right Livelihood Award by Sunderlal Bahuguna for its dedication to the conservation, restoration and ecologically-sound use of India’s natural resources.

Women’s participation in the Chipko agitation was a very novel aspect of the movement. The forest contractors of the region usually doubled up as suppliers of alcohol to men. Women held sustained agitations against the habit of alcoholism and broadened the agenda of the movement to cover other social issues. The movement achieved a victory when the government issued a ban on felling of trees in the Himalayan regions for fifteen years in1980 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, until the green cover was fully restored. One of the prominent Chipko leaders, Gandhian Sunderlal Bahuguna, took a 5,000 kilometre (3000 mile) trans-Himalaya foot march in 1981–83, spreading the Chipko message to a far greater area. Gradually, women set up cooperatives to guard local forests, and also organized fodder production at rates conducive to local environment. Next, they joined hands with land rotation schemes for fodder collection, helped replant degraded land, and established nurseries stocked with species they selected.

The Chipko Movement was a big success against the people who wanted to cut down a huge number of trees for personal benefits. The movement succeeded in creating a trigger for other people and communities in India to come forward to protest, and protect the trees. Soon the movement became a national phenomenon and became one of the biggest eco-logical movements. Narmada Bachao Andolan

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is an Indi-an social movement spearheaded by native tribals (adivasis), farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists against a number of large dam projects across the Narmada River, which flows through the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat is one of the biggest dams on the river and was one of the first focal points of the movement. It is part of the Narmada Dam Project, whose main aim is to provide irrigation and electricity to people of the above states. The mode of campaign under NBA includes court actions, hunger strikes, rallies and gathering support from notable film and art personalities. The NBA, with its leading spokespersons Medha Patkar and Baba Amte, received the Right Livelihood Award in 1991.
Narmada is India‘s largest west flowing river, which supports a large variety of people with distinguished culture and tradition ranging from the indigenous (tribal) people inhabited in the jungles to a large number of the rural population. Narmada Bachao Andolan, the most powerful mass movement, started in 1985, against the construction of a huge dam on the Narmada river. As per the Narmada Dam Project, the plan was to build over 3000 big and small dams along the river. The proposed Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada Sagar were to displace more than 250,000 people. The big fight of the Save the Narmada Movement was over the resettlement or the rehabilitation of these people. According to Narmada Bachao Andolan, the dams force the displacement of about a million people and affect many more, largely poor peasants and tribals. They also cause immense ecological damage through the inundation of forests, including prime habitats of rare species. The movement was heavily criticised by many people who saw it as an obstruction in the process of economic development, as the project was considered essential for providing access to water to a large number of people.


According to one NBA partner, the campaign against the construction of dams on the Narmada River is ―symbolic of a global struggle for social and environmental justice, while the NBA itself is a symbol. Though the movement started to save the rights of the indigenous population, the focus of the NBA shifted towards rehabilitation and resettlement. But even so, the World Bank’s exit, the Harsud Rally, and other notable success occurred between 1990 and 1993. Its influence has diminished since then, largely because people now believe that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) will move on regardless of what, given the Indian government’s will to support it. Notwithstanding this, Medha Patkar and the NBA keep on challenging the SSP.


  • Environmental awareness is an ideology that evokes the necessity and re-sponsibility of humans to respect, protect, and preserve the natural world from its anthropogenic (caused by humans) afflictions.
  • Environmental movement is a type of social movement that involves an ar-ray of individuals, groups and coalitions that perceive a common interest in environmental protection and act to bring about changes in environmental policies and practices.
  • Chipko movement was launched to protect the Himalayan forests from destruction and to protest against the colonial forest policy during the early decades of the twentieth century.
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan is the most powerful mass movement, started in 1985, against the construction of huge dam on the Narmada River to provide project information and legal representation to the concerned residents of the Narmada valley.

Objective type questions

  1. In which year did the Chipko Movement start?
  2. In which year did the Narmada Bachao Andola start?
  3. Name the leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan?
  4. Name two leaders of Chipko Movement?
  5. What was the aim of Chipko Movement?
  6. What was the aim of Narmada Bachao Andolan?
  7. Name the award given to Chipko Movement for its ecologically-sound use of In-dia’s natural resources.
  8. Name the labour cooperative started by Chandi Prasad Bhatt.

Answer to Objective type questions

  1. 1973
  2. 1985
  3. Medha Patkar
  4. Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sunderlal Bhauguna
  5. To protect the Himalayan forests from destruction
  6. To question the rationale behind the developmental projects especially dam construction across the river.
  7. Right Livelihood Award
  8. Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh

Self Assessment Questions

  1. List out the famous environmental movements.
  2. What do you mean by ‘green movement’.
  3. Write short note on Chipko Movement.
  4. Chipko comes from the word …………………… .
  5. What was the role of women in Chipko Movement?
  6. Write short note on Narmada Bachao Andolan.
  7. What is the name of the dam proposed in Narmada Sagar?
  8. The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan began in which place?


  1. Highlight the main issues and concerns of the environmental movements in India.
  2. In your opinion, how are the environmental and ecological rights related to democracy and development in India? Explain.
  3. How can we promote environmental awareness?
  4. Read sample narrative essays to understand the structure and features.


  1. Fisher, William F., ed. Toward Sustainable Development? Struggling over India’s Narmada River. Columbia University Seminar Series. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. Sharpe, 1995.
  2. Jeffrey Haynes, The Chipko Movement Politics in the developing world: a concise introduction, published by Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 0-631-22556-0. Page 229, 2002.
  3. “Medha Patkar and Baba Amte / Narmada Bachao Andolan The Right Liveli-hood Award”. www.right Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  4. Rajagopal, Balakrishnan. The Role of Law in Counter-Hegemonic Glo-balization and Global Legal Pluralism: Lessons from the Narmada Valley Struggle in India. 18 Leiden Journal of International Law. pp. 365– 366, 2005.