Assignment on a Social MovementAppiko MovementSubmitted to:Dr. Cherian P Kurien,School of Social Work,Marian College,Kuttikkanam.Submitted by:Bimal Antony,1stMSW,School of Social Work,Marian College,Kuttikkanam.Date of Submission:15thMarch 2011.
IntroductionThe Appiko movement was a revolutionary movement based on environmental conservation inIndia. The "Chipko Andolan" (Hug the Trees Movement) in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas inspired thevillagers of the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka Province in southern India to launch a similarmovement to save their forests. In September 1983, men, women and children of Salkani "hugged thetrees" in Kalase forest. (The local term for "hugging" in Kannada is appiko.) Appiko Andolan gave birthto a new awareness all over southern India.The Sahyadri Range, or the Western Ghats, in southern India is the home of a tropical forestecosystem. Although this tropical forest constitutes a potentially renewable resource, it is also a veryfragile ecosystem and therefore merits special attention. The past 30 years have seen the onslaught of"development" activities and an increase in population, both of which have exhausted this fragile resourcesystem. In the case of Kerala, which comprises 42 percent of the entire Western Ghat area, the forestcover fell from 44 percent in 1905 to a meager 9 percent in 1984.Such deforestation in the Western Ghats has caused severe problems for all southern India. Therecurring drought in the provinces of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu clearly indicateswatershed degradation. The power generation, water supply and ultimately the whole economy ofsouthern India is adversely affected. The ongoing "development" policy of exploiting the "resources -mainly forest and mineral resources - in the Western Ghats for the benefit of the elite has deprived thepoor of their self-supporting systems.BackgroundIn 1950, Uttara Kannada district forest covered more than 81 percent of its geographicalarea. The government, declaring this forest district a "backward" area, then initiated the processof "development". There major industries - a pulp and paper mill, a plywood factory and a chainof hydroelectric dams constructed to harness the rivers - sprouted in the are. These industrieshave overexploited the forest resource, and the dams have submerged huge-forest andagricultural areas. The forest had shrunk to nearly 25 percent of the districts area by 1980. Thelocal population, especially the poorest groups, were displaced by the dams. The conversion ofthe natural mixed forests into teak and eucalyptus plantations dried up the water sources, directlyaffecting forest dwellers. In a nutshell, the three major ps - paper, plywood and power - whichwere intended for the development of the people, have resulted in a fourth p: poverty.The MovementWith the felling and commercialization of the natural forest, the Appiko movement rose: apopular people‟s response against deforestation and the ruin of ancient livelihoods. At the same time theforest department was involved in clearing of natural ever green forest and plantation of monoculture ofTeak and Eucalyptus. This destruction of tropical natural forests and the raising of monocultureplantations of Teak and Eucalyptus caused irreversible changes in the forest ecosystem. The destructionof mixed species denied people access to biomass for fodder, fertiliser, etc. The clear felling of naturalforests has led to severe soil erosion and drying up of perennial water resources. Moved by the destruction
of essential ecological processes, the youth of Salkani village in Sirsi launched a Chipko movement whichwas locally known as „Appiko Chaluvali‟.History was created on 8 September 1983 when people from villages around Salkani inUttara Kanada district undertook to resist massive tree felling operations underway at the Kalaseforests. Hordes of men and women laid siege to the forest over the next three months, huggingthe trees and forcing the perpetrators with little option but to make an unceremonious exit. Thenews spread fast, catching the imagination of forest dwellers across the state in Kodagu, SouthKanara, Chikamaglur and Shimoga districts. Appiko, meaning „hug the trees‟, soon became apotent expression to counter violence against nature, reflecting empathy towards forests. “Itseems a cosmic force was fuelling indelible energy into each of us,” recalls M N Mableshwar ofGubbigadde village in Sirsi.The Appiko Movement is trying to save the Western Ghats by spreading its roots all oversouthern India. The movements objectives can be classified into three major areas. First, the AppikoMovement is struggling to save the remaining tropical forests in the Western Ghats. Second, it is makinga modest attempt to restore the greenery to denuded areas. Third, it is striving to propagate the idea ofrational utilization in order to reduce the pressure on forest resources. To save, to grow and to userationally - popularly known in Kannada as Ulisu ("save"), Belesu ("grow") and Balasu ("rational use") -is movements popular slogan.The Movement MethodsThe Appiko Movement uses various techniques to raise awareness: foot marches in theinterior forests, slide shows, folk dances, street plays and so on. The movement has achieved afair amount of success: the state government has banned felling of green trees in some forestareas; only dead, dying and dry trees are felled to meet local requirements. The movement hasspread to the four hill districts of Karnataka Province, and has the potential to spread to theEastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu Province and to Goa Province.The second area of the Appiko Movements work is to promote afforestation on denudedlands, in the villagers to grow saplings. Individual families as well as village youth clubs havetaken an active interest in growing decentralized nurseries. An all-time record of 1.2 millionsaplings were grown by people in the Sirsi area in 1984-1985. No doubt this was possible due tothe cooperation of the forest department, which supplied the plastic bags for growing saplings. Inthe process of developing the decentralized nursery, the activists realized that forest departmentmakes extra money in raising a nursery. The cost paid for one sapling grown by a villager was 20paise, whereas the cost of a single sapling raised by the forest department amounted to aminimum of Rs 2. In addition, the forest department used fertilizers and gave tablets to saplings.The Appiko Movements experience has brought an overuse of chemical fertilizers into the forestnursery, making it a capital-intensive, money-making program. The nursery program propagatedby the forest department is really a means for utilizing village labor at cheap rates. Appiko
activists have learned lessons from this experience, and they are now growing saplings only tomeet their own needs, not to give to the forest department.The villagers have initiated a process of regeneration in barren common land. The YouthClub has taken the responsibility for the project and the whole village has united to protect thisland from grazing, lopping and fire. The experience shows that in those areas where soil ispresent, natural regeneration is the most efficient and least expensive method of bringing barrenarea under free cover. In the areas in which topsoil is washed off, tree planting - especially ofindigenous, fast-growing species - is done. The irony is that the forest department is resorting tothe mechanized planting of exotic species, and also uses huge amounts of fertilizers on theseexotic, monoculture plantations. This work will definitely harm the soil, and eventually the treecover, in the area. Two obvious techniques of greening are being performed: one the forestdepartments method, is capital intensive, and the other, the peoples technique of growingthrough regeneration, is a natural process for sustainable development of the soil.The third major area of activity in the Appiko Movement is related to rational use of theecosphere through introducing alternative energy sources to reduce the pressure on the forest.The activists have constructed 2,000 fuel-efficient chulhas ("hearths") in the area, which savefuelwood consumption by almost 40 percent. The activists do not wait for government subsidiesor assistance, since there is spontaneous demand from the people. Even in Sizsi town and inother urban areas, these chulhas are installed in hotels, reducing firewood consumption.The other way to reduce pressure on the forest is through building gobar (gas plants). Anincreasing number of people are building bio-gas plants. However, the Appiko activists are moreinterested in those people who are from poorer sections - who cannot afford gas plants - so theyemphasize chulhas.Some people deter the regeneration process in the forest area through incorrect loppingpractices. The Appiko Movement is trying to change peoples attitudes so that they realize theirmistake and stop this practice.The thrust of the Appiko Movement in carrying out its work reveals the constructivephase of the peoples movement. Through this constructive phase, depleted natural resources canbe rebuilt. This process promotes sharing of resources in an egalitarian way, helping the forestdwellers. The movements aim is to establish a harmonious relationship between people andnature, to redefine the term development so that ecological movements today form a basis for asustainable, permanent economy in the future.New challengesThere are significant milestones that the movement recounts as it begins to prepare itselffor the challenges that lie ahead. The global discourse on democracy which adopts the neo-liberal model of market economy, poses new challenges to social movements such as Appiko. As
consumerism casts its influence on young minds, the next generation lacks the empathy to alignwith social causes. Building a fresh engagement with the younger generation to sustaincountervailing forces and contest the oppressive policies of globalisation is a formidablechallenge,” admits Hegde. The key word of „ecology‟ has been replaced by „economy‟ and„conservation‟ makes room for „consumption‟. In the present context, environment versusdevelopment debate is considered anti-growth both by the state as well as sections of the public.Be it land, water or forests, each natural entity gets viewed through an economic standpoint.Obsession with growth has helped brew widespread apathy towards ecological conservation.Needless to say, times have changed and the challenges have been further compounded sinceAppiko movement was launched 28 years ago.ReferencesAviram Sharma. Appiko Movement. The URL ishttp://ecovista.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/appiko-movement/Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma (2008, October). Appiko A hug in time. Splash, pp 6-7.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appiko_movementDr. Sudhirendar Sharma. Making sense of the Appiko movement. The URL ishttp://www.hindu.com/2008/09/22/stories/2008092252801100.htmhttp://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/article/the-appiko-movement-forest-conservation-southern-india