THE OWNERSHIP OVER COMMON PROPERTY RESOURCES: EMINENT DOMAIN

EMINENT DOMAIN

The process of state control over common property resources started with the period of colonialism. The genesis of the problem of environmental degradation thus stems from the alienation of local people form their natural resources base with colonial days. The British administration directed its forest policy towards commercial interest which was the major sources of revenue. This led to the establishment of forest department. These motives were explicitly documented in the Indian forest acts 1865, 1878 and 1927 and national forest policy of 1894 during colonial era (Balooni, 2009, p.3). These legal policy instruments radically changed the fortes from common property to state property. The sole motive behind this policy was to promote state interests. This was the beginning of the alienation of village communities from the forests.

This marked the beginning of a forest governance system which excluded forest – dependant community in the name of scientific forestry, public interest and national development, conservation and industrial growth. The British rulers gradually transformed this ‘loot’ in to ‘law’ (Verma, 2007, p.115). Special division forests were introduced such as reserved, protected forests and village forests in order to regulate the claims of local communities over these resources. It came under the private control of imperial forest department.

After independence of India, forest depended people expected to get their rights back and situation actually worsened. The policies remain unchanged and the successive government has been enlarged and embraced the same British policies. Through the legislation of forest policies state has reasserted that it has exclusive control over the forest production, management and protection and dubbed community as encroachers on the state land and excluded them from using forest. The priority of colonial forest policy was to fulfill demands of imperial needs and the demands of commercial industry became the cornerstone of post -colonial forest policy (Mitra and Gupta, 2009, p 197).

Large tracts of forest were g diverted for agriculture, hydroelectric projects and other development projects in the year after independence. It is estimated that in between 1950 and 1980, the rate of diversion of forest sites of commercial industries was about 150,000 ha per year.

Recently India has witnessed for significant forest tenure reforms, a new act entitled, as Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act 2006. The law is an attempt to arrest historical injustice through the acknowledgement of tenurial rights of tribals and other forest -dwelling communities. The main beneficiaries of Forest Right Act of 2006 will be scheduled tribes and other forest dwellers have been lived in and depend on forest for their livelihood for three generations and recognize rights of forest dwellers who previously were considered encroachers on state land.

But the experience of implementation of the forest act in the last five years shows that that neither the government nor the political parties have not ready to hand over the power to the forest -dwellers and the dependant communities. They do want transformation of the forest administration in manner as envisaged in the legislation. All the incidents very clear point to the fact that existing political system is very clear in its intensions as the government’s economic policies are directed towards selling off the natural and forest resources of India to the forces of capitalist globalization. (Cadtm, 2011, para.4)

Despite the increasing state control over forest areas in colonial and post -colonial periods of India, forest statistics reveal that the total size of and quality of forest have declined (Mitra and Gupta, 2009, P.201) .The widely used eminent domain allows the state to acquire private and common property for public resources. The eminent domain right has remained supreme overriding all other policies, laws and regulations. It is under the right of eminent domain at the state acquires land to build infrastructure, mines, dams and other projects. Communal land will continue to be a site of intense conflict between tribal people and the state.