Democracy In The Forests: The Governance That Is To Be
21 Sri Sakthi Nagar,
Vilankurichi Post, Saravanampatti,
Tamil Nadu – 641 035, INDIA email@example.com
Decolonization of forest governance was finally ushered in by law almost a decade and a half ago. But democracy in the forests continues to be denied as the law itself got reduced to almost a state-sponsored welfare scheme, where some small bits of land for individual occupation and community access are granted, almost as a concession instead of outright demarcation of forests and their transfer to the Gram Sabhas for governance which is what the law is all about. The performance narrative too is embedded in this deceptive storyline obfuscating and confounding the law itself. Besides numerous implementation issues that require institutional reforms and actions, this distortion stems from three specific functions of the forest bureaucracy who are in effective control of the forests, namely forest diversion for non-forestry purposes, compensatory afforestation in lieu of this forest diversion and creation of inviolate areas. All these induce, if not require, State sanctioned and acquiesced trampling over the Forest Rights Act 2006. Dismantling these countervailing administrative functions opens up the politico-legal and administrative space for democracy in the forests where conservation and livelihood have the possibility to finally converge, and for the Forest Rights Act to finally begin to be implemented in its true intent.