“Ped Kato”

If there was a movement called Chipko to save the trees of Uttarakhand, let us not forget the Ped Kato Andolan, the short-lived but significant agitation to chop down the trees of Kumaun. The Andolan was begun in 1988 by activists of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, who felt that the villagers were being hurt by the Forest Conservation Act of 1980. Many members of the UKD were arrested for cutting trees during 1988-89.

The Act decreed that no forest land could be used for non-forestry purposes without prior permission from the Central Government. The Dal maintained that the legislation was holding up, development works in the hills. Bipin Tripathi, of the UKD, claimed recently that he and his colleagues had chopped down trees in 111 places. Nearly 4500 development schemes in the hills were held up due to environmental reasons, he said.

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Himal Southasian