Cultural Factors in Management of (New) Common Property Resources: A Study from Madhya Pradesh in India

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Date
2000
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"The diverse issues of common property management have led to the generation of a great amount of thinking into their management strategies for old and newly created CPRs. Different management models have suggested for optimum output from CPRs, so that the benefit flows to the communities and the resource equally. Various studies have dealt with institutional management of CPRs, but the cultural factor plays a dominant role in institutions formations. Traditional communities' economic institutions have origins of long time association with some type of resource, and changing the resource's use pattern hampers the old institution and creates cultural barriers in new institutions' formation. This particular study looks into this dimension, where displaced groups actively utilising land for their economic activities are made to change their mode of production to fishing. The acceptability and adaptation of new occupation is showing different pattern of cultural factors in common property resource management. "The resource in question in man-made, built as part of the Narmada Valley Development Project in 1975. This project led to the submergence of large tracts of forest and rendered the local tribes homeless. Since the project was a multipurpose one, fishing was a regular activity in the reservoir since 1979, and was initially controlled by the Madhya Pradesh Fisheries Development Corporation. However, the dam was leased out to a private party in 1995, though only for a year. A local organisation, Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, fought for the fishing rights to the project affected people and the local people. It also mobilised the local tribals to form a federation, Tawa Matsya Sangh, registered as a co-operative federation in October 96. This federation succeeded in securing the fishing rights to the reservoir for a five years starting from December 96. The Sangh has with it 38 primary co- operative societies, in the study area has been managing profitably ever since. "Three different types of management regimes are experimented on it i.e. private, public and collective management. The latest experiment is of collective management, after the other two failed and the local organisation mobilised for collective management option. The villages have predominantly tribal communities of Gonds, Korkus, later on traditional fishing communities of Dhimars and Kahars were also brought in to fishing co- operatives. "Though the federation is making profit from the fishing activities, the institution functioning and the fishing activities among the user group show different cultural patterns. Like the Gond predominantly agriculturist look of land around the reservoir after the water reduces for agricultural purpose. The age, sex, ethnic factor plays a significant role in institution formation. The younger generation (members of co-operatives) contributes to fishing activities and federation work, but older generation prefers traditional way of life style. At the community level traditional fishing communities ( Dhimar and Kahar) were quick to exploit the benefit of collective management, were as Gond do fishing activities as a hobby and prefer traditional agricultural and forestry work as economic activities for their group. "These factors influence the collective management of the federation. Since this resource is leased out for five- year duration, the period is too short for institutionization of the fishing activities among the cooperatives."
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IASC, common pool resources, institutional analysis, participatory management, fisheries, culture, collective action, cooperatives
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