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

Articles By Forest dwellers

Decolonising Decentralised Governance

Three decades since the initiation of decentralised governance, and more than a decade since the first community forest resource right was recognised in Maharashtra, forest-dwelling communities still have limited space in decision-making about their forest resources. This article describes three cases from Maharashtra where bureaucratic overreach has impeded emerging forest management by forest dwellers holding community forest resource rights. It reflects on the need for changing the prevalent colonial mindset in the bureaucracy to facilitate genuine decentralised democratic governance.

Protected Areas, Forest Rights, and the Pandemic

The complex nature of contestation between the forest department and the local communities (that is, Van Gujjars) in the Rajaji National Park is explored, with special reference to the recent violent ­attacks by the forest department officials on Van Gujjars. An analysis of the intricate aspects related to the claims of both the Van Gujjars and the forest department underlines that the existence of legal pluralism in forest governance creates a situation of legal indeterminacy, which has been used by the forest department to overlook and violate the demands of local communities.

Contested Spaces, Democratic Rights

The Maharashtra government's village forest rules seek to overturn the rights regime established in the letter of the law by the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act and the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 in terms of both community rights, as well as the rights over minor forest produce. Moreover, the rules write away the future rights of the community over forests and their management and control over minor forest produce in perpetuity. These are also ultra vires of the rules regime agreed and enacted by an act of Parliament.