Gaura Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Sunderlal Bahuguna - leaders of Chipko Movement
One woman whom future generations in Uttarakhand are not likely to forget is Gaura Devi who has mobilised the women of this region to protect their natural heritage. Gaura Devi was not educated in the conventional sense of the term. She had not attended any school. Born in 1925 in a tribal Marchha family of Laata village in Neeti valley of Chamoli district, she was only trained in her family's traditional wool trade. In keeping with the tradition of those days, she was married off at a young age. She went to a family which had some land and was also in the wool trade. Unfortunately at the young age of 22, Gaura Devi became a widow with a two-and-a-half year old child to bring up. She took over the family's wool trade and brought up her son Chandra Singh alone. In time, she handed over the family responsibility to her son but did not sit back to rest. She was aware of the poverty of the region and how it affected women and how her own experiences of survival had taught her a lot. She was actively involved in the panchayat and other community endeavours. Hence, it was not surprising that the women of Reni approached her in the wake of the Chipko Movement in 1972, to be the president of the Mahila Mangal Dal. It was the first of its kind to be established. Its responsibilities were ensuring cleanliness in the village and the protection of community forests. Gaura Devi was in her late forties and her son was not doing very well. But she had no hesitation in accepting their offer.
Chandi Prasad Bhatt (1934-) 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. Today he is known for his work on subaltern social ecology, and considered one of India's first modern environmentalist
Sunderlal Bahuguna Born :January 9, 1927 is a noted environmentalist, One of chipko movement leader and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of Non-violence and Satyagraha. For year has fought for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas, first as a member of the Chipko movement in 1970s, and later spearheaded the Anti-Tehri Dam movement starting 1980s, to early 2004. He was one of the early environmentalists of India, and later he and people associated with the Chipko movement later started taking up environmental issues, like against large dams, mining and deforestation, across the country.
One of Chipko's most salient features was the mass participation of female villagers. As the backbone of Uttarakhand's agrarian economy, women were most directly affected by environmental degradation and deforestation, and thus connected the issues most easily. How much this participation impacted or derived from the ideology of Chipko, has been fiercely debated in academic circles.
Despite this, both female and male activists did play pivotal roles in the movement including Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sundarlal Bahuguna, Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Negi, Shamsher Singh Bisht and Ghanasyam Raturi, the Chipko poet, whose songs echo throughout the Himalayas. Out of which, Chandi Prasad Bhatt was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1982, Padma Bhushan in 2005. Sundarlal Bahuguna was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1987, and Padma Vibhushan in 2009