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Gaon Ganrajya (Village Republic) Movement in Rajasthan: Asserting Traditional Rights of Tribes over Community Resources

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Venkatraman, Annamalai
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7341
Sector: Forestry
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): community
resource management
legal systems
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "The Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA) 1996 provides a legal framework for decentralized management of community resources by tribal communities in scheduled v areas in India. The process of its implementation is varied and slow across the nine scheduled v area states. The spirit of strengthening Gram Sabha (village assembly) for managing community resources through the act is totally absent in all these states. Meanwhile organizations like Jan Chetana Sansthan(JCS)and Astha working in tribal areas of Rajasthan helping the communities to establish what is known as 'village republics' or 'Gaon Ganrajya' taking the cue from the provisions of PESA. Many villages declared self rule by installing stone slab with new constitution inscribing on it (Down to Earth, August 31, 2002). To what extent these organizations facilitate the implementation of article 4.d. of PESA i.e every Gram Sabha (village assembly) shall be competent to safeguard traditions and customs of the people, community resources and customary mode of dispute resolutions. What is their role in ensuring implementation of PESA i.e., related to ownership of minor forest produce, prevention of alienation of land, power over institutions and functionaries and over local plans and resources over such plans? To find out about the Gaon Ganrajya movement and its interface with PESA, a study was conducted recently in the five scheduled area districts of Rajasthan. Many villages in these areas declared themselves 'village republics' with the active involvement of JCS and Astha and started asserting their rights over community resources like water, land and forest (Jal, Jammen and Jungle). Manathgaon village in Dungarpur district is one of the earliest to declare itself as village republic in the late 1990s. It formed forest protection committee consisting of the members of the village assembly. They operate based on rules and regulations to protect and use the adjacent forest which is considered as their community resource until forest department took over. After almost more than ten years of its control and effective access and sustainable use, the traditional forest species is getting renewed giving hope of future to the forest and the communities depending on it."

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