Chandi Prasad Bhatt is an Indian Gandhian environmentalist and social activist, who founded Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS) in Gopeshwar in 1964, which later became a mother-organization to the Chipko Movement, in which he was one of the pioneers. For this, he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1982, followed by the Padma Bhushan in 2005.

Today he is known for his work on subaltern social ecology, and considered one of India's first modern environmentalists.

Bhatt felt deeply concerned over the plight of the mountain people as a whole, and he often walked through the mountains to talk to the villagers about their problems. Among the most important, of course, were the shortages in farmland and jobs. But added to these, were oppressive government policies concerning the forests.

The villagers depended on the forests for firewood, fodder for their cattle, and wood for their houses and farm tools. But the government restricted huge areas of forest from their use, and then auctioned off the trees to lumber companies and industries from the plains—a practice inherited with little change from the British colonialists. Because of these restrictions and an ever-growing population, the mountain women found themselves walking hours each day just to gather firewood and fodder.

In 1956, Bhatt found hope when he heard a speech by the Gandhian leader Jayaprakash Narayan, who was on a tour of the area. Bhatt and other young people launched themselves into the Sarvodaya movement and Gandhian campaigns, of Bhoodan and Gramdan and organizing villages for economic development and fighting liquor abuse throughout the Uttarakhand.

In 1960, he left his job at GMOU, to commit full-time to his Sarvodaya activities, and by 1964, Bhatt had instituted the Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal (Society for Village Self-Rule) to organize fellow villagers in Gopeshwar for employment near their homes in forest-based industries, making wooden implements from ash trees and gathering and marketing herbs for ayurvedic medicine-and to combat vice and exploitation.

Curtailment of the villagers' legitimate rights to trees and forest products in favor of outside commercial interests enabled Bhatt, in 1973, to mobilize the forest-wise society members and villagers into the collective Chipko Andolan (Hug the Trees Movement) to force revision of forest policies dating from 1917. Women, who regularly walk three to five miles to the forest to gather and carry home fuel and fodder on their backs, took the lead. True to the movement's non-violent philosophy, these women embraced the trees to restrict their felling.

Bhatt and his society colleagues have been helped by sympathetic scientists, officials and college students. Yet theirs is essentially an indigenous movement of mountain villagers, and Chipko Andolan has become an instrument of action and education for members, officials and outsiders, in the realities of effective resource conservation.

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