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Decentralization of Natural Resource Governance: A Case Study from an Indian Village

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Joshie, S.; Kalam, S.; Chaturvedi, Rohini; Rastogi, A.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1085
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): decentralization--case studies
resource management--case studies
local governance and politics--case studies
natural resources--case studies
Abstract: "The placement of natural resource governance with representative local government engages local people with local government. This is important given the magnitude of the dependence on natural resources in rural areas of the developing world. These environment-democracy linkages can be a source of strength for both environmental and democratic objectives. "Natural resource management is of interest to promoters of decentralization and local democracy, because they are a source of revenue and power, and offer potential legitimacy to new local government authorities. Decentralization is of great interest to environmentalists too because it reshapes the institutional infrastructure for future local natural resource management potentially establishing institutions for sustainable and equitable community representation and inclusion. Whether, however, the transfer of natural resource powers within or into the local institutional landscape will promote or undermine representative, accountable and equitable processes depends on which authorities are being entrusted with powers of natural resource governance. "In spite of the regulated use of the resources by community institutions, the degradation of natural resources has continued unabated. Conservation of large landscapes requires mechanisms to bring in equilibrium between the demand and supply within and among the communities in the larger socio-political setting. With the boundaries drawn at the village level and the custodial rights of the common lands vested with various departments of the state, it is difficult on the part of the communities to manage such resources. Therefore apart from the institutions at the village level, many of the discussions in recent times have focused on the need for Panchayat to play a vital role in the strengthening of these nested institutions at various levels to help conserve and protect the larger landscapes. "This paper studies aspects of collective governance over the natural resources of land, water and vegetation in the Chitamba Panchayat in Bhilwara District of Rajasthan. Over the years the efforts of village institutions in this Panchayat along with the Panchayat has resulted in the improvement in the biomass availability in the commons governed by the community, in stark comparison to the area not under community governance where degradation continues."

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