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Consultation on REDD in India organised by NFFPFW and EQUATIONS
25 November 2010
EQUATIONS in partnership with Global Forest Coalition (GFC), with Mr.Souparna Lahiri, as principle researcher, in 2009-10 completed a brief study on the implications and impacts of strategies of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) on biodiversity and rights of forest communities in India. REDD has raised deep concerns amongst the forest groups, movements and indigenous communities on the implications of REDD on the traditional rights of indigenous forest communities over land and resources, their culture, identity and livelihood.
With Government of India pushing strongly for REDD in UNFCCC, the concerns intensify. As an important step towards generating awareness, raising concerns and facilitating a discussion on the issue of REDD, we want to share the contours of the study with representatives of the forest movements and civil society with the specific objective of receiving responses to these issues. The major outcome expected from this discussion is to develop strategies to generate a campaign on the implications and impacts of REDD as a climate mitigation scheme on the forests and forest communities.
|I||9.00 – 9.30||Registration|
|II||9.30 – 9.45||Welcome and Introduction||Ananya Dasgupta|
|III||9.45 - 12.15||REDD Realities||Souparna Lahiri
||Sanjay Basu Mullick
||K.B. Saxena, Gautam Bandyopadhyay
|UNDRIPS & Rights of Forest People in India||C R Bijoy|
|11.00 - 11.15||Tea Break|
|11.15 - 12.15||India’s REDD submission||Souparna Lahiri|
|International Debates & Responses||Soumitra Ghosh|
|IV||12.15 - 13.30||Mundari Khuntkatti and Traditional Rights and GovernanceCommunity Forest Rights in Orissa Traditional Rights and Governance in the North East||Sanjay Basu Mullick,
|13.30 - 14.00||Lunch Break|
|V||14.00 - 15.30||India’s REDD Readiness and Green India Mission||Roy David
||Bijoy Panda, Akhil Gogoi
|Green India Mission – the MoEF Context||Rahul Saxena|
|Response to the Mission and violation of FRA & PESA||Shankar Gopalakrishna|
|Green Mission: As a climate mitigation measure?
Or simply increasing forest and tree cover?
|15.30 - 15.45||Tea Break|
|VI||15.45 - 17-15||Moving forward – campaign for a community based forest governance model – FRA Regime as an alternative to REDD, JFM||Sanjay Basu Mullick|
Shri Dilip Singh Bhuria and Shri Ramdayal Munda will join us for their interventions in the meeting.
Note: Every session will end with an open discussion
Click here to download the 'List of Participants-Consultation on REDD in India-25 Nov 2010-NFFPFW and EQUATIONS', 57kb.
Click here to download the 'Detailed Report of the Consultation on REDD in India-25 Nov 2010-NFFPFW and EQUATIONS', 227kb.
Click here for the Presentations made at this 'Consultation on REDD in India,25 November 2010, organised by NFFPFW and EQUATIONS'.
REDD Realities in India: Will the forests and forest people survive?
Consultation on REDD in India organised by NFFPFW and EQUATIONS
25 November 2010
(Note: For this detailed report with references/endnotes please refer the above downloadable version or the embedded Scribd version.)
EQUATIONS in partnership with Global Forest Coalition (GFC) in 2009-10 completed a brief study on the implications and impacts of current Indian forest legislations, policies and governance, status and implementation of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIPS) in India and Indias compliance on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) the parameters that are increasingly being used while negotiating and formulating the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) REDD text.
As an important step in this work, EQUATIONS and National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) collaboratively organised a workshop titled REDD Realities in India: Will the forests and forest people survive? The objective of this workshop was:
- To share the contours of the study which EQUATIONS conducted, with representatives of the forest movements and civil society,
- To generate and raise awareness on REDD in India and
- To facilitate a discussion on the issue of REDD, forests and climate change and receive responses on these issues.
The day began with the welcoming and introduction of the participants facilitated by EQUATIONS.
|REDD Realities||Souparna Lahiri||Sanjay Basu Mullick|| K.B. Saxena,
|UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIPS) & Rights of Forest People in India||C. R. Bijoy|
Souparna presented the EQUATIONS study starting with the terms of reference. He then divided his presentation in 5 parts
meaning of REDD and the context of the debates in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
history of forests and forest governance in India (The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA), The Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 and the Draft Tribal Policy,
India and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),
India and REDD and
The emerging concerns
REDD and other forest-related funds will only promote an artificial greening of the country, whilst increasing the financial clout of the forest bureaucracy and thereby undermining the rights and entitlements of the forest people
market or fund-based financial mechanisms like REDD may tend to act as a disincentive towards the decentralization of forest governance
The majority of the forest people in India have already shifted to areas which are of less intrinsic value and considered uneconomic.
REDD could be the final straw for forest dependent communities, if both the state and private sector actors are then tempted to stake their claims to these uneconomic areas
REDD fund in India is unlikely to lead to the conservation of natural old growth forests, or regeneration of forests, or improvements for the life and livelihood of the forest people
The commoditisation of Indias forests may well be completed, at the cost of its protectors the forest people and forest communities
Bijoy through his presentation laid out in detail the legal framework in India, which impacts resource control. While speaking on the status of international law, he clarified that at various levels within the legal and policy framework of India, it has been stated that in the event an international law is in conflict with an Indian law, it is the Indian laws which will be upheld, therefore limiting the possible positive fallout of international legal frameworks which can help people access their rights. Having said this, he also shared through examples, that some of the principles enshrined in international laws are also reflected in the Constitution as well as in the Indian legal system. He then presented the list of international instruments that India has ratified as well as Indias status of communication and reporting on these.
The next part of Bijoys presentation focused on the following 2 aspects:
- Land, natural resources and environment
He summarized his presentation with the point that laws and courts are not spaces for solution. They can only be used to legitimize, politicize and strengthen peoples movements:
Laws the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006
FRA has recently become a significant weapon in struggles to stop the seizure of forest land for industrial projects.
In 1994, the Central government issued a notification under the Environment Protection Act that required public hearings before environmental clearance is granted to large projects.
Courts - PIL useful at times for Adivasis to assert their resource rights. Ex: the Samatha judgment. But in recent years in particular, such rulings have become rarer.
Legal interpretation running counter to the rights of adivasis
The process of usurpation of the rights contained in the Constitution and the various protective legislations enacted by the state, has gained momentum over the last few years.
1. Policy making in India involves bureaucrats and is influenced by global processes, with no space for people. The Gram Sabha is simply an implementing body and does not really have a mandate for decision-making. Therefore, one of the functions of the civil society is to unravel the whole arena of environmental policymaking. Even our legislature is unaware of what goes into policies and are very often passed with this ignorance. For e.g. there is no awareness in the legislature about the climate mitigation mechanisms that are being planned and their resulting impacts.
2. There has been a systematic and brazen assault on adivasi land independent land, community land, land use systems, land management systems, customary rights all these are also violated. The only visible debate in the public domain is that on the Land Acquisition Act. Yet, through diverse ways other rights are also being violated.
3. Indigenous communities are being short changed through the following 5 paradigms
- Paradigm of development It is the majority and elite class who are part of the decision making process in the country to decide on what constitutes development? It includes decisions of who will use the natural resources and how. All democratic processes are ignored while doing so and in no way is indigenous communities part of the decision making process. Tribal representatives and communities are also not raising these issues.
- Paradigm of conservation All forest related Acts are founded on the idea of closure of forests and the establishment of state control. REDD is part of this wider politics. While the seeds of this are in the colonial times, it has gained deeper roots after independence.
- Paradigm of climate change mechanisms this is another tool for the dispossession of indigenous communities of their rights. This is being done under the pretext of conservation of wildlife, forest fuel and not only on forest land, but also on common land. Initially, these were directed to urban industrial use, but now towards global environmental use.
- Paradigm of forest management this only serves to entrench the control of the forest department over the forest territory. For e.g. while the FRA has been passed, Joint Forest Management (JFM) continues to exist. In the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), India has been a frontrunner, focussing on energy, but today CDM practices are being extended to forest land. It is a corporate agenda and the forest department conspiring with them.
- Paradigm of community participation the word Participation has been co-opted by the state and has robbed it of all meaning. For e.g. in the Green India Mission (GIM) document, there is a mention that cadres of social change will be created.
7. We have therefore arrived at a position where it has become impossible for indigenous communities to survive. JFM groups and Self Help Groups (SHGs) are becoming substitutes for communities. The Governor is also not playing the role s(he) should play. The State, while retaining its structure is robbing the same of all substance. Courts are executing the legislature and are therefore compromising the 5th scheduled. For e.g. in the case of Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd. (BALCO), Niyamgiri the courts have violated the 5th schedule.
8. The State is giving high legitimacy to international level for pursuing the economic paradigm for growth in the climate change debate. However, India cannot afford to pursue the same injustice in our country, since the Sate has also to provide necessities to people.
9. In the case of the carbon saving project land, forest, soil and water are used as carbon sinks. Sponge iron plants. Biomass, biogas in none of these projects there are any benefit to communities. Sustained by corporate, governmental and international organisations, false assurances are given and false assumptions are made. CDM projects have become another arena for land grabs - not only forest land but also common land. It has been projected that by 2017 20% of the total fossil fuels will be in the form of oil extracted from bio fuels. Therefore in the case of climate change projects 3 questions need to be addressed:
- Who owns the forest land?
- Who looses the land?
- For what purpose is it used?
The panchayat is the only space for resistance to this. We need to bombard this structure with educational material, using which they can resist.
10. Today, we are working in a narrow area of environment and land. While there are several peoples movements in the country, all these need to be interconnected and synergy brought in to expand the intervention base. We have to therefore find like-minded international NGOs and pressurise them to influence their governments and corporate agencies on the issues of environmental degradation.
Response from Gautam Badopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh
Most laws and policies are anti-poor and anti-people. Examples are the Public Security Act, which has been oppressing people in Chhattisgarh and in the North East.
There are several confusions and contradictions in the laws. In Chhattisgarh, the state government is unwilling to implement the FRA in 910 villages since according to them they are already receiving these rights through PESA.
Environmental laws are being formulated not for the benefit of the community but for the extraction and use of natural resources e.g. the Indian Forest Act, (1927) looks at the commercial value of forests.
Response by Shri. Ram Dayal Munda, Member of National Advisory Committee (NAC), Government of India and Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
Shri. Munda shared that this was an important meeting and hoped that the group would achieve the outcome that the meeting had the potential for. The government perceives the red corridor issue to be a larger crisis. He informed the gathering that the NAC was scheduled to meet that very day to discuss about food security bill.
The adivasi issues range from extremism to issues of forest rights. For e.g. Assam has invaded the adivasi areas for the second time to remove encroachment by people who have infact lived in those areas for over a 100 years. The ultimate aim is for people to take care of themselves. This can happen only when adivasis are empowered. However, where will this empowerment come from? One example of this empowerment is the passing of the PESA. We can today find some adivasi representatives in the Parliament. Yet, even if the Act was passed, none of the states have passed the relevant rules for its implementation. In the case of FRA, it was felt that a good job was being done since V VTCs were being formed and other structures were being put in place. But, none of this has really helped since it is the bureaucracy who still controls the situation. Shri. Munda shared that it is highly unlikely that the revolution will come. He asked the group to submit a report on REDD to the National Advisory Council (NAC), so that they can further deliberate on the issue and take appropriate steps.
The following points were raised during the discussion:
Issue Raised: There is tremendous lack of trust in our public institutions. What should the civil society organisations do if none of the organs of the state can be trusted?
While we assume that that the public structures might not work, we nevertheless need to use and access them
Roy Burman in one of his books has said that in our country, what is given by the process is taken away by the state policy. Therefore, while spaces are available, the policies are not being implemented in these spaces. There is the politics of laws and the politics of policies and this need to be understood.
The push for REDD comes from the fact that the countrys government need not worry about funding these initiatives since International Financial Institutions (IFIs) are all ready to fund for REDD projects.
We need to acknowledge that REDD is bringing up an opportunity for the state and the corporate to co-opt the community in its plans. Therefore we need to beware of brining in the option of financing through REDD, as this brings a danger of the community being co-opted while the financial benefits are reaped by the corporate agencies.
There cannot be any possibility of harmonising the community with the REDD projects as the plants being grown are not in accordance with the culture of the community.
- Before carbon credits can be earned an investor is needed and the project needs to be financially viable and according to the norms laid out. Only corporate agencies are in a position to do this. Therefore the carbon credits also will go to the corporate agencies with very little going to the government. For e.g. in the case of CDM projects, Jindal, the same corporate agency which is responsible for communities being displaced from their lands in Chhattisgarh is earning carbon points. Another person reminded the group that REDD and CDM are different while CDM is meant for carbon credits and is a project which is in operation, REDD is still being discussed in India and has not yet been implemented.
There is a provision for the recognition of customary law but these are not usually codified and are left to the informal plane. There is a notion of live and let live that seems to be operating, but eventually the corporate agencies along with the state will not let you live. This is also seen at the international level. In the legislative arena for e.g. there is no property law and therefore all land belongs to the state. There is a bill which is pending in the parliament, called the Land Titling Act, which is being pushed for by the corporate agencies. This is an attempt to convert an enjoyment right to proprietary rights. The whole issue is of marketability of land. When that happens, common property resources and customary laws will be removed.
The question finally is not about whom we need to act against, but where and how do we act?
|Indias REDD submission||Souparna Lahiri||Sanjay Basu Mullick||Bijoy Panda|
|International Debates & Responses||Soumitra Ghosh|
Souparna shared with the group that India in its approach to REDD, which is driven by Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), has introduced the concept of Compensated Conservation. The current negotiations are happening for the creation of carbon sinks post 2012 and takes the Afforestation and Reforestation (A&R) form. He shared that the political reasoning for the formation of the REDD project is that CDM projects cannot be implemented in forest areas.
The following were presented as the Indian context of the REDD submissions:
Compensated Conservation is intended to compensate the countries for maintaining and increasing their forests as carbon pools as a result of conservation and increase / improvement in forest cover backed by a verifiable monitoring system
In 2007, India favored a national level REDD approach to work outside CDM, and financially supported by a specially designed and designated fund to operationalize the REDD concept
Comprehensive approach at national level can be developed by integrating existing IPCC 2006 guidelines, GPG, and use of remote sensing technologies for estimation, acceptance and disbursement of positive incentives.
It needs to be kept in mind that potential changes in forest carbon flows from REDD and A&R actions could be very large, with much lower incremental costs than in other Green House Gases (GHG) mitigation actions involving new technologies, such as in the energy supply and demand sides.
Since the promotion of such technologies would be a global policy imperative, in order that sufficient carbon credit supply side space is available for such technologies, there may be need to place limits on the extent to which a developed country may source REDD and A&R credits in order to meet its GHG mitigation commitments.
Soumitra started his presentation by placing before the group the historical international context of REDD. He said that the international space also includes people who are opposing, the market based CDM forestry projects. In the CDM projects, it has to be proved that there was no forest in the site that has been selected for the project and only then can a plantation be developed. The intended investor needs to also prove that without carbon credits and money coming from carbon credits afforestation cannot take place. Selling carbon credits is a long complex process. Prior to REDD, industrial plantation was a sore issue, in the international spaces especially in south Africa, Indonesia, etc. and were actively opposed.
In response to this, REDD was planned as a next attempt at creation of market-based conservation mechanisms. The reasoning behind REDD was that when a tree is cut carbon leaks into the atmosphere and therefore the idea of creating carbon sinks to plug the leakage, which is what REDD is about. In the CDM projects, forest was clearly not apart of it. But with the initiation of REDD, forests enter the global picture. People did not have information on this and since the increased awareness about the project; the international response has been to oppose it since it commoditises the forest that is basically a natural resource. This opposition has culminated in the conference held in Bolivia where Evo Morales read out the declaration on behalf of world climate justice groups. Major indigenous groups across the globe have taken an anti-REDD stand. Another international group, Friends of the Earth, International (FOEI), also takes an anti-carbon marketing position where they do not support carbon trading with forests. Climate Action Network is however not clear in its stand, which sometimes take a pro-CDM/REDD stand.
In the context of India, the Green India Mission (GIM) responds to all the issues raised against CDM & REDD, which makes it a dangerous mission. The Mission talks about raising Rs. 46,000 crores internally using plan money like Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) and other plantation projects and envisages giving money to the Gram Sabhas and not to the forest department, nor the corporate agencies. REDD outside of the Indian context is unimportant to us since the text is full of jargon and all kinds of contradictory calculations.
In response to a question in the earlier session on the issue of financial incentives for conservation, one person shared that to say that money can be used as compensation and to state that there is no harm in financial incentivisation are two different things. Currently the statement that is being made in international spaces is to recognise UNDRIP in the text and then look at how it reads in terms of implementation. The international environmental groups have been opposing REDD on the grounds of commoditisation of forests. In states like Jharkhand and Orissa, livelihoods and incentives are currently being received by communities and they are opposing REDD. The question that is being asked is who owns the rights to the forests, forest trees and forest carbon? The carbon market today is apparently not working since it is not stable and it cannot be depended on for financial incentives.
| Mundari Khuntkatti and Traditional Rights and Governance
Community Forest Rights in Orissa
Traditional Rights and Governance in the North East
| Sanjay Basu Mullick
Subrat Kumar Sahu
Historically, the indigenous communities in Orissa had strong community forest management. Orissa never had any social forestry projects. More than 1/3rd of the forest areas were under community control. With the introduction of JFM the conflicts started. Most of these were community controls were turned into Van Samrakshana Samities4 (VSS) with the introduction of JFM. Most of these VSS are controlled by the forest department.
In Keonjhar, a district that has faced heavy mining, the forest department is coming up with plantation. Local communities in these areas have traditional systems of forest management. Therefore the conflict with the forest department and the communities are growing and has become intense. However, it is not the same in Bagjor in Bolangir district. There the communities are not united and therefore their struggle against the forest department is yet to become strong.
Traditional Rights and Governance in the North East - Bamang Tago5, Arunachal Citizens Rights
Bamang presented the situation in Arunachal Pradesh, where 137 hydro power projects are being planned. The state has not been identified as a 5th or 6th schedule area and therefore the PESA has not been enacted in the state. The state also does not have district councils or any special governance structure like the other states in the North East Region. This has led to the several community ownership rights to not being codified into legal entitlements. The clans of tribes living in the region have owned all natural resources including rivers.
This reality has led to the resistance of the hydropower projects and infrastructure projects like Trans Arunachal Highways as well as a demand for the implementation of the FRA. The look East Policy of the government of India directs investment in sectors like power, tourism and infrastructure. The State has responded to this resistance by brutal force very often sending large battalions to suppress them. The state government is also raising special battalions to stop peoples voices.
Mundari Khunkatti and Traditional Rights and Governance - Sanjay Basu Mullick, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan
The whole issue of forest management and forest as property is an outcome of the colonial state making process. Before that there was no notion of forest as property and has always been seen in the commons. For the Mundas, forests are their home. They roamed settled and resettled in the forests. When people from the outside started encroaching the Mundas fought against it. Mundari Khunkatti rights is one success of such a struggle. It is a gesture of token recognition of usufructuary rights of the community. After end of the Birsa rebellion, John Baptist Hoffman, took up the issue legally, and stated that under the British rule these savages have rights. They have a lineage (Khunkatti) clearance. However, after independence, the Government of India derecognised these rights. The granting of these rights was part of the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act (CNTA). Despite it being a legal provision, the officials themselves have flouted it. Only 106 Mundari Khunkatti villages are left today. In every Mundari Khunkatti village all land, forest, water resources are traditionally owned by the community and are not individual property. The village headman is the custodian with the consent of the community. The British notion of management is in actually plantation. The community notion of management is to use the forest produce judiciously while protecting both flora and fauna. They go hunting once a year only.
They hold a biocentric outlook to the world and not a homocentric one (as also stated in the chapter on hunting in the book Adidharam written by Shri. Munda). According to the Munda tradition, every living being including vegetation and all non-living things have spirits. During the British times, a large part of the forests came under the zamindari system where some kind of forest management was conducted but the Mundas never accepted the zamindar as the owner of the forests (in the princely states adivasis had more power with respect to forests). However, there is no clarity on what the policy of the British was in the context of forests the nature of which the Mundas lived in. In the case of Behari forests, the zamindar was the custodian of the forest (All villages had a forest which was recorded. Other villages had nistari). The Mundas however, divided their forests into 2 parts 1. katta where you can cut and the zamindar can sell the timber and 2 rakha- which were meant for conservation and were not allowed to be cut. Until 1956, this is the kind of forest management that could be observed in the region. After 1956, with the abolition of the zamindari system, the Government of India issued a notification according to which the State became the owner of the forests. The Mundas resisted but the government stood firm about the ownership being with the forest department. Under Sec 629, only those forests can be taken over by the government, to which it has proprietary rights and declared as protected areas. However, the CNTA recognised the Mundas to have rights over the forests in the Mundari Khunkatti villages.
First, the Mundas had total ownership, then in 1947, the Bihar Land Reforms diluted this ownership, and now the forests have been completely taken over under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Today, the Mundari Khunkatti are under the management of the Forest Department. In 2005, the whole community came together and filed a case against the violation of the CNTA with the Supreme Court, which instructed that the litigators take their case to the Ranchi High Court. The reason the community approached the Supreme Court first was that there had already been a case filed in the Ranchi High Court, which had judged that the government had every right to declare any part of the country as protected forests if it deemed to do so. The other argument that the court made was that there was a significant time-gap between the declaration of Mundari Khunkatti forests as government owned and the case filed in the court. When the community under the direction of the Supreme Court, filed a case in the Ranchi High Court all points were judged on the grounds that the 1927 Act is valid and that Sec 29 has to be upheld.
Today, the people have not left their villages. While there has been some fragmentation within the community, most of the people still maintain the ideology that they have received the forests from the Supreme being and that nobody has the right to take it away from them.
|Indias REDD Readiness and Green India Mission||Speakers||Moderator||Key Respondent|
|Green India Mission the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) Context||Rahul Saxena||Roy David||Bijoy Panda, Akhil Gogoi|
|Response to the Mission and violation of FRA & PESA||Shankar Gopalakrishna|
|Green Mission: As a climate mitigation measure? Or simply increasing forest and tree cover?||Soumitra Ghosh|
The GIM is one of the 8 missions set up by the Government of India to combat climate change. It envisages bringing large areas of the forest under forestry interventions within the next 10 years with approximately a Rs. 46000 crore investment and is the biggest after NREGA. Earlier in the year a series of consultations across the country were held during which the draft GIM document was discussed and responses from people was elicited. Based on this a new draft has been uploaded onto the MoEF website and also sent to the PM Council on Climate Change, which has yet to meet and decide on what their final prescription to the draft will be. REDD along with the money that will come to the planning commission is seen as the source of the revenue for GIM.
The initial and final drafts are well-written documents will all the right points placed at the right places. The documents speak of the FRA and the committees to be formed for forest management in the Gram Sabha. Further, the mission will support community-conserved areas including forest groves as well as reform and the mechanism that will be used has also been elaborated upon. Yet, what has been proposed is like old wine in a new bottle where all the old mechanisms through which the forestry programmes have functioned in the past have been retained like the JFMCs into which large amounts of money will be pumped into.
In terms of the committee members on the panel which has written these documents, a few people have been consulted with and made members. No discussions have taken place with community members.
According to the document, vulnerable hill slopes will be identified for conservation and the promotion of indigenous species. The document has also taken an anti-monoculture stand.
The document supports community institutions especially the FRA committees as well as SHGs and common interest groups formed for forest based activities. Yet it has been acknowledge by civil society groups that with the presence of the FRA committee, there is really no need for any other institutional mechanisms. The document also accepts that the Gram Sabha holds the key to decentralise governance and will help strengthen them. However, one of the most dangerous lines in the document is building a cadre of community foresters.
It has been envisaged that youth will provide service to the community and would be the link to the large number of service providers with respect to forests including the forest department and others agencies.
The document sees GIM making further inroads into how communities own or manage forests. It might pit the youth against the rest of the community members. The same mechanisms as followed for the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) will be followed. The District Forest Officials (DFO) will be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the forest development agency.
Planning is happening because money is available and not because there is a need for planning and therefore will not involve a bottom-up approach where people will come together and look holistically at Minor Forest Products (MFPs), grazing etc and this will be the process of making micro plans.
In most villages, the JFMC comprises of villagers with only 1 member from the outside. However, this member who is the member secretary is the most important and is either the block officer of the forest guard. In the name of participation, the forest bureaucracy has run the entire NAP. There is apprehension that this will be repeated with GIM.
It is also envisaged that GIM will be the counter to the impacts of FRA, which have given substantial rights to the people. This is already visible in Uttarakhand where money for JFM is used to break community control over Van Panchayats. In Orissa JFM money is used to break community control that they have over forests.
There is a tendency among the civil society to over romanticise the Gram Sabha, which are created like monolithic homogenous structures where it is assumed that there is consensus. The more probable scenario is one where the community will not be able to decide as one about what is going to happen to the GIM money and will therefore result in the forest department again having the control.
There will be more plantation, infrastructure activity in the name of forest and soil management. Since money is not needed to put together guidelines like those on grazing and these might be sidelined as there is no capital required for it and GIM is a capital-based Mission.
The most critical aspect of the document is that it says a lot about reforming the JFMC and the Forest Development Agency (FDA) structure through the funds that will flow. Some reforms are already taking place like the State Forest Department Agency (SFDA) through which funds for forest management is currently being routed.
A long-term agreement between the Forest Development Agency (FDA) and the forest department and it has been planned that the Village Forest Development Agency (VFDA) will henceforth have the authorities of the DFO. These institutions do not exist and are being formed in the context of forest management which largely translates into creation of spaces for new plantations and that too because there is money present for this.
GIM is a very vague document as compared to the rules. There is no formation of sub-mission at the village level. There are beautiful things, which are however not cohesive and the FDA mechanism is what is talked of throughout the document.
Civil society suggestions about what can be adopted at the village level are not visible in the document.
This group should discuss whether it wants to take a stand and if it wants to communicate this to the Council, which is to meet in the next few days. The next year will be a participatory phase and the GIM will begin its implementation in 2012 and towards this some declarations have been made like the one by Jairam Ramesh, when he wrote to the state governments that appropriate amendments should be made in the state Panchayati Raj Acts so as to create space for the new JFMCs, where they do not exist and to recognise the existing ones as a Gram Sabha committee for forest management. Though this is non-constitutional since JFMCs are not elected but the members are selected randomly.
Response to the Green India Mission and violation of FRA & PESA- Shankar Gopalakrishna, Campaign for Survival and Dignity
Shankar largely focussed on the implication of GIM on FRA and the economy. Linked to REDD, CAMPA, external forestry projects and international laws are large amounts of money being poured into these schemes and therefore into the country. The money parked under CAMPA is more than the forestry budget of the entire country.
Response from the ground: There has yet to be mobilisation beyond the local areas against this. This is an area of less conflict. The forest management system has become a liability for the forest department. That is the reason that the FRA was really passed. The next is that they are going for this more subtle but more money driven economy. The primitive accumulation mode did not work. So now they are trying to individualise and pump in money. This is the impasse that the forest struggles have thrown up. Today, there is only one social group left where the struggle is strong and that is the forest struggles. For the state GIM is one means to break these struggles.
The problem that the struggles are facing is that there is no binary opposition formation and therefore do not know who to place their criticisms in front of. Bashing at the level of policy will not work and there is a need to generate a wider political response. The GIM is the first in a series of attacks and ideology behind this will be consolidated in the next 10 years if we do not respond.
Green Mission: As a climate mitigation measure? Or simply increasing forest and tree cover? - Soumitra Ghosh
We need to pay attention to the fact that what is happening in the context of GIM in India is part of a larger global politics and strategy to control the commons. The statements and language used in the document is similar to the World Bank forest strategy document of 2002-2003, which was a critique of the JFM and which came prior to the FRA where JFM was seen as a part of the Structural Adjustment Programme to change the countrys policy to fit in the global market system. FRA is in tune with international conventions and the GIM is a follow up of that process. It is seen that FRA and its provisions for decentralisation can be used for the privatisation of forests.
From 1992-1994, there was a process of giving integrated forest lands to corporate agencies. The GIM speaks of JFM, FRA and PESA but is vague in inter-linkages between these. While the document does not speak of monoculture, it does not also take a stand against it. Therefore, if a Gram Sabha decides on monoculture, it is not considered as problematic and unless there is a political movement on the ground, this is what most Gram Sabhas are most likely to decide upon and this is the road to REDD. The question then is how are we going to monitor the Gram Sabhas. Everyone has their eye on REDD including companies like ITC. It is talking about plantation on 5 million acres of land and conservation and regeneration on another 3 million acres of land outside forest areas. If this happens, lands for which FRA pattas are being given will be lost to jetrohpa- like plantations. The vision statement of GIM does not address this. Where people still have a symbiotic relationship with the forests there might be resistance. But in places where communities do not have such a relationship, there is a possibility that GIM will succeed. With the promotion of Public Private Partnership (PPP), private companies do not need to own the land, they just need to control it.
With respect to the question of marketing carbon credits, creation of nurseries will involve corporate agencies like in the case of ITC in Andhra Pradesh, which is doing this on agricultural land.
Response by Bijoy Panda, Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, Madhya Pradesh
Green India is really Bleed India. On the issue of GIM and forestry, the following points were made:
The Mckinsey Report on Urban India 2030 envisages that villages will be removed and replaced by cities. Where today 29% of Indias population lives in cities, by 2030, 59% will live in cities. On the other hand when the news about food grains rotting in godowns in the country broke out, the Prime Minister met journalists and stated that only thinking about the environment does not suffice and that development and environmental issues need to be balanced.
Recently in the Indian Express, there was an article on a study of southern Indian states on economic aspects. The study has suggested that a move towards privatisation will help and needs to be promoted even in the context of food security.
Some years ago the Paris Declaration between funders were made in 2005. As a part of this, they decided to move large parts of their funding to Africa and move out of India. Recently an editorial in Business Standard spoke about developed countries having bought land in Africa, which also included China. South America has learnt its lesson 10 years ago from their experiences of capitalism and have rejected it (like Argentina) and the capitalist countries have learnt that they cannot control dictatorial regimes. This is the reason that the capitalist countries are adopting the new language of democratisation and decentralisation, which will fragment people. It is on this basis that entitlements are being defined in quantitative terms. This has resulted in contradictions in the regimes in developing countries. In India 50 legislations have been identified for promoting privatisation. For e.g. Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) and Vedanta are legally wrong. Possibilities are being explored to privatise forests not in a direct manner but indirectly. GIM and REDD are movements towards those legally private regimes. After the year 2000, all policy texts have appropriated and subverted the language of the civil society.
The state on the other hand is also becoming extremely repressive. In 1996, in Badwani district (at that time a part of Khargone district), the state created a Salwa Judum-like organisation called Adivasi Shanti Sena as a federated group. The GIM language of cadre of community foresters is a movement in a similar direction. These are armies who have access to villages and a model which requires less amount of money. This furthering of conflict at the grassroots is another attempt of the State to gain control over the natural resources.
We need to hold in suspect all that the government in doing. Giving suggestions to the government is of no use since they are not implemented as seen in the case of PESA and FRA since the government is creating legal ways of committing illegality. It is in this light that GIM and REDD needs to be seen, as a way to kill the strength of the people.
Response by Akhil Gogoi, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Assam
Akhil shared with the group, the genesis and experience of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), which began its work in 2002 in Golaghat district, Assam.
Speaking about the historical context of forest-related oppressions he shared that when the British arrived in the region in the year 1886, they introduced forest regulation and declared them as reserved forests, the use for which communities had to pay a tax. Therefore while people could own land, the minerals beneath was owned by the state. In response to this there was a massive peasant uprising, in which 140 people were killed. Further, lands at the higher altitudes were developed for tea gardens. In this manner all lands both in the mountains and the plains were taken away by the British government.
Three colonial Acts have been operational in the region. One of them, a state law, mentions that those who were involved in tea cultivation would be given anything between 500 and 1000 acres for land and they would also be exempt from tax for the next 45 years. Some aristocratic people in Assam who had large amounts of resources to invest in such a project expressed their interest to the British but instead faced the death noose and were hung.
Assam every year experiences a lot of erosion due to floods, which has resulted in 85% of the land becoming non-cultivable. Today, the indigenous communities do not have land forest or otherwise. The tea gardens still operate as colonies with all the oppressions remaining intact. The fact that there is no state law operational in those regions ensures that these oppressions continue unabated. In 2002, the indigenous communities in the state faced another round of eviction on a massive scale in 42 sites. It is in response to this that some individuals acted and the process led to the formation of the KMSS.
With no other option left, the indigenous communities went into the jungles. KMSS tried to mobilise them and were successful. Today in 32 of these sites they have been able to construct roads, schools etc. Gram Sabhas have also been formed and they have also managed to remove the forest offices from the sites. There are two rivers, which flow through this region, and the community has a right over these including the collection of stones, sand and fish.
Several of the tea gardens, over a period of time, have spread their operations and have encroached on large tracts of land. The indigenous communities have grabbed the encroached land and this has been distributed to marginal farmers. Until date, 400 families have been given 10 bighas each. The Gram Sabhas have also decided that those who own land in the forests can limit their holding only to 10 bighas and the rest will be treated as community land and will be conserved. When the FRA was passed in 2006, the owners of the tea plantations tried taking back these lands from the people using State force like the CRPF, which conducted several atrocities. Today the movement is strong in 21 districts. All the ruling as well as opposition parties have been resisting the process. Atrocities by police and army continue unabashed.
The other reality today is the talk of forest conservation, policy for hydropower generation etc. Now the KMSS is involved in the struggle against big dams in the northeast.
For e.g. in Arunachal Pradesh, the land and forests have already been appropriated by the State and it is now eying the water resources. The real political reason behind the Government of Indias decision to build a dam on the river Siang is because China has a similar plan. Yet, the amount of electricity that will be generated from the proposed hydropower project on the river is 10% of what the region needs and therefore is inconsequential. China as a political problem and an opponent is the stand of mainland India and is not an issue for the people in the North East.
Another reason stated for the argument for hydropower projects is the role of the dams in controlling the problem of floods and erosion. However, past experiences have shown sufficiently that dams cannot address these problems.
The Dibang dam in Arunachal Pradesh will have a reservoir the capacity of which is 193 cu. Mts. The state has a total indigenous population of 850000, of which 342000 will be displaced. 44% of Indias surface water is in the North East and this is an important region for the country and is also therefore important to conserve.
KMSS believes in FRA, Right to Information (RTI) and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and has therefore chosen to align itself with the National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM) & NFFPFW. While the government has Rs. 100 crores to distribute blankets, it has no money for NREGA. There is no democratic space left in India and the concept of self-determination, which is ingrained in PESA is not working. While K.B. Saxena has proposed remedial measures, that merely will not be enough. There is a need to study the political economy of a region and based on that analysis strategies have to be developed. This was also Akhils appeal to the group.
Response by Dilip Singh Bhuria, former Member of Parliament and Member of various Government Committees related to PESA and tribal issues
40% of indigenous communities live in the forest areas and all forest areas are tribal areas. Tribal economy is forest based. There was a lot of discussion post-independence through the constitution committee on bringing adivasis in the mainstream. The fifth and sixth schedule and the tribal sub-plan are attempts at achieving this. In 1975, the Kerala government had promised to resettle adivasis who had been displaced and has not yet been able to achieve this. In 1972, the Jhabua district administration had committed to afforestation activities by planting trees, but nothing has happened till date. All this goes to show that the government cannot save the forests and the idea of handing over land to the corporate agencies is further outrageous.
Currently, 216 districts have been declared as naxalite-affected. However, only 16 districts are seeing activities of the Operation Green Hunt. On closer scrutiny it is in these districts that there is corporate interest. The CRFP cannot solve the naxalite problem. Only where the government works in a participatory manner on development, can there be a solution. 80% of the mineral deposits are in areas which adivasis live. Today, Bailadila, district Bastar, has the best iron in the world. Japan is purchasing the iron and dumping it in the sea so that no Indian companies can use it to develop their product base. The result we see is that there are no Indian firms making cellular phones. These are larger issues and cannot be solved by the government. In Dang (a region in Gujarat), the forests are still untouched. The reason is that when the British arrived to take charge, the tribal rulers fought them and the British lost and made the tribal rulers kings of the region.
In 1995, a committee was formed to suggest an appropriate structure for tribal self-rule, the outcome was that PESA was passed in 1996. All the state governments were directed to form the rules for the state, failing which, the central act will have to be followed. While none of the states has done that, people do not know what the implications are. We therefore need to work towards building awareness within communities.
In Banaswada, Rajasthan, a resolution has been passed, by the villages, that in schedule areas, the forest department should be removed and that the adivasis will manage the forests. They have also put up a board denying entry of the forest department.
In the North East, the people are victims of democracy.
|Moving forward campaign for a community based forest governance model FRA Regime as an alternative to REDD, JFM||Sanjay Basu Mullick|
The context for the discussion from the various regions
1. People are being displaced multiple times due to mining, dams, tea plantations; oil excavation etc. people are being left with no other choice but to enter the forests.
1. In the above context, what kind of political economy as an ideology do we prefer? If we are unable to formulate a strategy within such a context, then there is no sense of our actions or strategic thinking. The issue based response mechanism has led to lesser possibility of an evolution of an alternative political formulation. Social movements have become a contributing factor to the legitimacy of the state since we have remained non political. While it is alright for us to fight local issues like POSCO, we cannot merely look at FRA, REDD in strategic ways but we need to address the whole political economy. If we just critique policies, the government will include it in a document but will take no action. Unless we formulate a political economy at a larger level we cannot move at the local level.
1. If we think we can negate the state in our strategy then there will be no democratic space left. If people pick up guns then we can do nothing with a peoples army. The only way left therefore is to critique policies and strategise based on that. This is also the space in which we can build peoples movements. For e.g. when the PESA was passed, it did not make sense to the people of Jharkhand, since they were at that time battling for a separate state. Now that there is a separate state it is important to engage with the issue, even though we know nothing much will come out of it and use this to build a movement around it. Having said this, it is also true that in the context of FRA, we had asked a bundle of arrows but we did not even get a blade of a knife. Yet, it is also true that since we do not govern the state we are not able to make perfect laws. Every struggle needs to make a political base- create own politics. The challenge is to relate it to the larger struggles.
In conclusion, it was shared that while we started the discussion with the specific issues of REDD and GIM, we have gradually arrived at the important issue of the States threat to the people. We have also acknowledged that it is important to arrive at a common understanding of how we as a collective look at the State.
K.B. Saxena made a very useful observation about the State, about how it is becoming more and more anti-people over the years. This perspective will lead us to the ideological frame that we have talked at length during the last session. While there is no ready made road map to change and revolution, all the struggles across the country will have to have some common ground and work together on some issues. Considering the fact that all these struggles are working in isolation and that there is very little communication and coordination amongst them, a major challenge will be to bring them all to a larger joint platform. We have to learn lessons from NAPM, which failed to attract the smaller groups and from the initiatives from the Marxists, which also failed. An important paths forward is to remain engaged with peoples struggles so that the ideology of the people maybe crystallised. This will have to be done along with the attempt to create a larger alliance of forest peoples struggles.
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