THE OWNERSHIP OVER COMMON PROPERTY RESOURCES: COMMUNITY RIGHTS

Land and territorial right of people often receive no explicit legal recognition (Mathur, 2009, p.176). When laws do recognize such rights, they are seldom defended in practice, especially if they conflict with wider national development goals. The Panchayats extension act of 1996, of Panchyat extension to scheduled areas or PESA as it is commonly known as, is major move to recognize the rights of the tribal people over the natural resources that they manage, and on which depend for their livelihoods However, the act has not been implemented, and the communal management of forest remains mere promise. Despite the oppositions from tribal people, the forest areas are allocated to corporations to invest in mining and other projects.

The new legislation of government is often contrary to the world view and traditional practices of these people. With respect to the right of use natural resources, in the best of case there is a contraction between the spirit and the letter of law and it is also contrary to the customary law of indigenous people. The owners of the land become are today landless. The land reforms were limited in its scope. They promoted further commercialization and capitalization of land without respecting the community ownership over theses resources.

Forest and forest land and people are closely linked with forest. It can’t be separated into watertight compartment such as political, economic and administrative and religious, without leaving minimum space at all. The biggest dilemma is that almost 75 years after independence, today in forest regions Indian state continues all anti -tribal juxtapose, defends and sustain the British -India’s draconian acts and laws quite interrupt with out leaving minimum space breathing space at all (Glody, 2011,p.4). Despite the changes of government under different political parties has been failed to address the issue right over forest resources

At present, about 95% of the total forest area belongs to the government, and tribal population of India has been divested of much of its legal communal rights. People are directly dependant on forest and common lands for a variety of forest products for food and fuel, medicinal plants for meeting their sustenance livelihood needs.

The advent of industrial revolution, which led to the steady economic growth of industries with the active support of state machinery, is directly led to the unchecked exploitation over common property resources. With the concept of planned development led to the introduction of planned mining in India. India has blessed with wide variety of mineral types. Most of the mining are taken place in the forest regions that adversely affected the life of those people who depended upon the on the forest resources. It has led to mining related conflict with state and indigenous community and their use of natural resources is restricted.

The protection of genetic resources is one of the complex issues. Bioprospecting involves exploration and extraction of biological resources in search of commercial value for the manufacture of medications, agricultural products, or cosmetics. Over the last decade the interest of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and middlemen in new commercial products has focused on tropical rainforests. Making use of native knowledge can be decisive in search for economic benefits from bioprospecting. On many occasions cooperation of native groups has been sought in bioprospecting without informing them of the intended use of the discoveries, thus depriving them of fair economic returns for their knowledge. It has often been the case as well that bioprospecting has been carried out on indigenous land without obtaining consent of the communities in advance (Tresierra, 1999, p.31)

Now community is experiencing a new form of encroachment on their customary rights by developmental interventions such as large dams, mining and conservation. The natural resources base has been further eroded with increasing deforestation ,privatization of the commons and drying up of rivers through the stranglehold of powerful forces both Indian and foreign ,who are exploiting them in an unsustainable way. Tribals constitute at least 55.16% of the total displaced persons in the country (Mitra and Gupta, 2009, 198). There has been a sustained and exacerbated threat to the rights of tribals to forest land that has been both a cause and a consequence of a larger process of political, economic and cultural marginalization of during colonial and post colonial eras.

‘National interest’ was the log in name and ‘development’ became the password to have smooth access to the natural resources of the country for their inhuman exploitation and criminal expropriation (Mullick, 2007, p.22). While dams, and mines displaced millions of peasants and tribals and destruction of forest caused hunger and destitution. Naturally they become ecological refugees with in the country. Indigenous people struggle for autonomy and identity throughout the colonial and post- colonial period demanded state recognition of integrity of their culture and nature. As far as tribals are concerned, forest is inseparable from their existence, the tribal and forest policies of state could not be framed on incompatible premises. However this demand was never honoured by the state.

The government of India did not pay much attention to tribal people’s rights or the need for recognizing their communal rights over forest and other common property resources. . State is considered as protector of the right and interest of people. As in the case of tribals the state itself dubbed them as encroachers in the state land in order to protect interest of others. The state has occupied many areas which tribals are inhabited from time immemorial and has classified them as state forests. This kind of act from the state has altered the concept of welfare state. Whenever the needs of industries are mentioned they are termed as national interest, which do not include the needs of forest dwellers for fuel and fodder, food.etc. It is an urban and anti- tribal complex that treats the forest policy as distinct from tribal welfare policy.

Tribal people suffer from physical displacement mainly because the laws that do not recognize communal customary rights of people to forest lands (Mathur, 2009, p.179). The development projects are ignoring the customary rights people over this land and treated them as illegal occupants on government land. Such an approach invariably leads to the improvishment of once settled communities, just opposite of what development premises. For the construction of hydro- electric project, the tribal people were forcibly displaced from their land despite having legal title to land and no compensation was given for the losing their common resources.

Tribal people who are moved for development projects are improvishment by this loss of access to natural resources. Such improvishment is even more pronounced when people have to move from resource rich areas such as those targeted for conservation. The successive governments have deliberately ignored the importance of common resources in the life of forest -dwellers and regarded the communal resources as government properties

The conservation and development of forests are bound to benefit the tribal communities and also entire country. This possible only when existing regulatory and prohibitive nature of forest legislation is changed. The competition for scarce resources are is in reality, a conflict between powerful commercial – industrial interests and powerless tribal communities (Chaudhuri, 2007, p.15). The state policy is only reflects this unequal situation. There should be a people – oriented policy that such change will not be effected till power equation is changed in the favour of the tribals and other marginalised communities.

The genesis of the problems of encroachment, deforestation, and degradation lies in the process of expanding state control over forests initiated by the British and continued with added vigour by the state in independent India .The state sees that well- being of forests and that of forests dwellers as different and mutually exclusive options. This is based on premises that the forests can be well protected only if local forest using communities are excluded, and that the needs of the forest dependant communities can be met only if society is ready to suffer the loss of forests .The state is considered local communities are enemies of forests and the forests have to be protected from them and best protection can be ensured by the tight control of state. The problem of encroachment is inherently linked with basic issue of forest mismanagement. Encroachment is the result and not cause of degradation. And degradation has been caused alienation has been caused by state -dominated forest management, which has caused alienation of forest dwellers from their social and economic base. (Parekh and Shah, 2002, p.173)

The eviction of millions of tribals from their natural habitat is not solution to the problem of deforestation and degradation. The focus should be on devolving rights to forest dwellers, who are the only people who can become good stewards of forest resources. The gun and guards approach will not work, whether it is practiced by the machinery of the ministry or the judiciary. Forest dwellers are integral to the forest ecology they are no encroachers (Parekh and Shah, 2002, p.174)