Time to halt pressure on common property resources in India

Friday, 8th September 2017

The pressure on the common property resources (CPRs) has rapidly increased in the past few decades. Not only are the areas under them which have been impacted, but the increased pressure has led to land overexploitation and land degradation. 

During the last two-three decades, there has been a rapid erosion of common land, mainly due to the diversification of land, encroachments, and non-recognition of rights of pastoral and of other indigenous communities. In addition to all the above factors, limited legal and policy support restrict the community’s right to use and protect the commons. It is increasingly acknowledged that the lack of a comprehensive commons policy in India has resulted in serious challenges in the governance of commons.

Departing from this concern, ILC Asia member in India, Maldhari Rural Action Group (MARAG), Action Aid and NES India (International Land Coalition) organized a two-day consultation on the 22-23 August 2017 in Gujarat, India, to formulate policy recommendations for the Government of India. The participants consisted of civil society, experts, NGOs, activists, researchers, social movements, CBOs, donor agencies and government officers. They came together to discuss the historical relevance of the commons and in smaller groups, the definition of commons, the impact on Notified and De-notified Tribal Communities, pastorals, rights of livestock and the rights of pastoralists, territorial rights of pastoralists – migration Corridor/mobility route, Women and Commons, Management, Restoration, Regeneration, Conservation, Protection, Development of Commons and implementation mechanism of the policy.

The participants recognized that the pastoral community along with other NT-DNT community has always been Invisible and unheard. With the rapidly declining commons, they are the worst affected community, who are excluded from any policy documents and processes. The proposed policy will build an idea that pastoralism is a social arrangement and a way of life, that is characterized by its unique food habits, lifestyle, culture and their harmonious relationship with the nature, ecology and their livestock. These characteristics can conserve, preserve and sustain commons and maintain biodiversity and ecological balance. It should be noticed that these communities are closely related with their livestock, and not putting them as a business capital. Livestock is their dignity of life.

At the end of the consultation, the participants decided to set up a drafting committee to draft the policy. Once this draft is ready, it will be circulated throughout the experts, legal experts, as well as to the community and academicians. Upon their approval, this draft shall be given to the government of India. 

News source and pictures by MARAG

The story is reproduced and edited for ILC Asia publishing purpose