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Common Pool Resources and Communal Control: Two Case Studies in Himachal Pradesh, India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Bon, Emmanuel
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/662
Sector: Agriculture
General & Multiple Resources
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
resource management
mountain regions
economic development
property rights
collective action
land tenure and use
Abstract: "The Sirmour district, Himachal Pradesh, India, lies among the outer western himalayan range. The track is by far mountainous with deep valley and, therefore, cultivations have to be carried out on steep slopes which are extensively terraced. "Mixed-farming is the main occupation in the mid-hills and, is basically dependent upon agriculture, livestock and forest. In that regard, communal forests (mushtarka ), common grazing lands (ghasnies ) and gravity flow irrigation system (khul ) were taken as the three major common property resources in our study . Accordingly, people daily combined various type of resources such as private resources, state-owned resources and commonly- owned resources. Since the 80's, farming systems at Dhamla and Chauras have evolved like the whole economy in the district, moving from one of subsistence characterised by a diverse and self-reliant mountain agricultural system based on food-grains, to one that is mainly cash driven and market-oriented based on vegetable crops. "Due to several factors like increasing population pressure, socio-economic disparities within village communities, codified environmental laws and public sector interventions, many changes have taken place in the field of natural resources management, especially those resources lying under the category of Common Pool Resources (CPRs). "This study attemps to survey natural resources management in two villages of Sirmour district, Himachal Pradesh, according to the modes of access to and usage of resources in the context of historical development and changes over property right regimes. "We argue that, in the context of mid-hills economy, current property regimes on natural resources are not consistent with mixed-farming systems on account of: -Inappropriate public sector intervention (vs. state expansionism) has resulted in the de facto partition of common grazing lands. -People ask for being entitled to control resources which they use as commons in response to the insensitivity of public control. -It is the numerous and diverse capacities to escape individually from both legal and customary systems of sanctions which makes the rules-in-use unviable. -Customary regulations and communal control may provide 'social boundaries' to the use and abuse of nature. "Finally we show that collective action can emerge, in some circumstances, as an efficient alternative complementarily to privatization and nationalisation. To achieve this demonstration, we use the current theories of common property resource systems."

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