ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rural Accessibility and Development: Sustainability Concerns in an Ecologically Fragile Mountain Belt

The governments of the Himalayan hill-states and the international donor agencies have consistently advocated disbursal of funds for improvement of road connectivity in keeping with the mandates of a "development paradigm" that advocates the importance of bringing remote mountain villages under the influence of modernisation and change. This paper evaluates the impact of such accessibility in a mid-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, through field studies. While road mileage has expanded at a fairly rapid pace, initiating development and change in numerous spheres, the paper argues that reckless road construction activities initiated under strategic, political or economic compulsions have adversely affected the fragile environment of the region.

Decentralised Forest Governance in Central Himalayas: A Re-evaluation of Outcomes

A study conducted in 45 villages in the central Himalayas assesses the current status of van panchayats, an old institution of decentralised forest governance. It finds that locals are indifferent to the administrative jurisdiction of the forest in the course of their resource extraction activities. There is no quantitative evidence that they are exercising restraint while accessing and using locally governed forests. Collective rule violation appears to be common. The inhabitants are unaware about the long-term ecological implications of their actions. As a consequence, both van panchayat forests as well as the state-controlled forests have degraded badly over the years. Rising population pressure also seems to be undermining the efficacy or even the persistence of these age-old local institutions.

Understanding Sustainability-Study of a Hill Settlement

Study of a Hill Settlement Rinki Sarkar The notion of sustainability' assumes special significance for settlements which survive amidst ecologically fragile upland conditions. This is exemplified by assessing the production and livelihood systems adopted by inhabitants of a settlement located in the northern mountainous tribal belt of Himachal Pradesh. The main finding is that traditional practices regarding livelihood systems (mainly agriculture and livestock-raising) were entirely subservient to ecological conditions. Historically speaking, the 'Rajah's' equitable land distribution policy and the resultant phenomenon of universal land ownership may have fostered these sustainable practices. A legacy of the past, these practices are noticeable even today. Under these circumstances the question of sustainability assumes new significance.
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