|Number of households||-|
|Number of people||-|
The Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) is the northern extension of the Ranthamboree National Park and falls within the buffer zone of the Ranthamboree Tiger Reserve. The sanctuary is located in the Karauli district of Rajasthan and falls within the Karauli and Sapotra blocks. It is spread over a total area of 674 sq km. The sanctuary is bounded on the west by the river Banas and on the south by the river Chambal.
The area under the sanctuary falls within the biogeographic zone 4 (semi-arid zone) and biotic province 5 B (the Gujarat Rajwara Province). The vegetation is of the dry deciduous type with a predominance of Anogiesus pendula, locally known as dhok. The vegetation is spread across the three altitudinal levels of the sanctuary; the vegetation is also of three distinct kinds. In the uppermost tabletop area there is an abundance of dhok. In the lower tabletop there is a predominance of Euphorbia sp. and ber scrub. The lowermost level comprises mostly ravines with flat land near the banks of the river Chambal.
The terrain is characterised by some valleys and river gorges, locally referred to as khos. On account of higher moisture retention and cooler temperatures, these khos are the most suitable habitats for wildlife and nurture a wide variety of flora and fauna. These khos are considered (both by the FD and the local people) to be richest reserves of biodiversity in the area. Common in this region now are sloth bears, nilgai, sambar, cheetals or spotted deer, striped hyena, and Indian porcupine, among a host of other species. The most significant conservation value of the sanctuary is that it is buffer to Ranthambore National Park.
As per the figures of the FD there are about 36 villages and hamlets inside the sanctuary. According to the local NGO, Society for Sustainable Development (SSD), there are about 41 villages inside the sanctuary. The difficulty in assessment arises primarily from the fact that most revenue villages have several hamlets that are far-flung. According to the FD, in 1996 there were about 1000 families living inside the sanctuary. Most of the villages are multi-caste in their composition. Predominant amongst them are meenas (considered as scheduled tribes) and the gujjar (considered as other backward classes). Otherwise most villages have a varying population of caste groups like kumhars, malis, jatavs/bairvas, korins, khatiks, brahmans, dhobins, banias, fakirs, nais, telis, doms and bhangis. In any given village, the majority of the population is comprised either of meenas or gujjars: very rarely are the two communities found living together in the same village.
Most communities, irrespective of their caste affiliations, subsist on pastoralism and subsistence, single-crop agriculture. Wage labour is increasingly an important source of livelihood, as the rainfall for the past several years has been highly erratic. People work on the construction of roads and in the legally and illegally operating mines (outside the sanctuary area).
The civic amenities in this area are poor. Karauli and Sapotra blocks, within which the sanctuary is located, are reported to have very poor infrastructural facilities. Most villages are not connected by roads and thus not serviced by buses. The Primary Health Centres (PHCs) located outside the sanctuary are not easily accessible. This area faces an acute scarcity of water.
Because of the acute shortage of water, especially from March onwards, every year the pastoralists undertake a seasonal cyclic movement between geographical spaces of differing circumferences, primarily in search of pasture and water. Most people living in and around the sanctuary are heavily dependent on the resources of the sanctuary, such as fodder, fuelwood, non- timber forest produce and timber for agriculture and house construction. Even though timber extraction for personal use (house construction and agricultural implements) is officially not permitted, this is a concession that the community- initiated Forest Protection Committees (FPCs) make in the forest areas under their jurisdiction. The quantity to be extracted is decided upon by common consensus and is strictly in accordance with individual requirements.
|Year of Formation||1989|
|Motivations||Livelihood, Response to external threat|
Even prior to the declaration of the sanctuary in 1983, the forest area that now comprises the sanctuary has been home to several pastoral and agricultural communities who are dependent substantially on its resources for their livelihood.
Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary, otherwise a little-known PA, has become a popular reference among environmentalists and conservationists for the community-initiated forest protection committees (referred to as kulhadi bandh panchayats) that are operational in the area. These forest protection committees prevent the carrying of axes into the forests, a symbol of protecting the forests. Following these initiatives there have been several measures by the Forest Department (FD) to collaborate with the people.This case study reflects on these organised efforts that the communities in and around the sanctuary have made towards protecting their forests and those of the sanctuary.
Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary was declared in 1983, but local people were not aware of the legal status of the sanctuary till about early 1990. However, irrespective of the legal status of the area, a people’s movement towards forest conservation started in this area in the late 1980s. According to the local people, the immediate reason for the origin of this movement was to take action against the migratory graziers—the rabaris.
Towards the end of the 1980s the forests in these areas had become severely depleted. Local people attribute a number of reasons for the denudation of the forest cover and the depletion of wildlife. The origins of these reasons lie in the period before the declaration of the sanctuary. According to them, first the British and later the independent Indian government’s forest policies extensively exploited this area for revenue (e.g., timber extraction and charcoal making). The British as well as the Indian royalty also used the area for game hunting. The Annual Administrative Report of Karauli State for 1912-13 states that the local ruler had hunted down about 213 tigers between 1886 and 1912. The maximum extent of degradation in this area took place in the 1970s and 80s, when this area was subject to excessive exploitation of various kinds: coupe-wise felling of trees by the forest department for revenue generation, poaching and illegal felling. Thus, within a span of 20-25 years the area saw drastic levels of depletion of forest resources.
Compounding the problem of the fast-depleting resources for the survival of the local communities was the pressure exerted on the resources by the rabaris. From time to time there has been a lot of unrest among the local people following the entry of these migratory graziers. The struggle with the rabaris continued over a period of time, going on till 1994.
|Collective of CCAs||-|
|Decision Making Body||Panchayat , Kulhadi Bandh Panchayat|
|Rules and Regulations||-|
|Community activities through the year||Regulation of harvest, Patrolling, watch and ward|
The organisation of the 12 villages became famous as Baragaon Ki Panchayat. The villagers realised that their resource base was threatened not only by the Rabaris but by the poachers, the timber mafia and the local people themselves. Thus was born the idea of kulhadi bandh panchayat (KBP). It was decided that the panchayat of the 12 villages would ensure that no one carried axes into the village forests. They also decided to protect the forests within their village boundaries against outside threats. Following the example of the Lohra Panchayat, various other panchayats (like the Nibhera Panchayat that has about 8 villages under it) also adopted the practice.
Constitution and functioning of KBPs
The structures at the initial stages operated at two levels: (i) Village level, and (ii) Apex level.
i Village-level:Everyvillagehasapoliticalandadministrative panchayat (village executive). The KBP is adapted from and in some cases constituted of the same body. The difference however was that the KBPs were/ are convened to discuss the specific issues of forest protection alone and also adopt a set of regulations and rules pertaining to the same. Besides they take on the additional responsibility of keeping vigil over the village forests. Further the KBP met at more regular intervals as compared to the village panchayat. Structurally, in most villages it is ensured that almost all families in the village are represented as constituent members of the KBPs.
ii Apex-level: A number of villages officially falling under the administration of a single formal political panchayat as designated under the Panchayati Raj system.7 Generally some of the panch patels represent their respective villages at this level. The apex body may, subject to circumstances, also include villages outside this panchayat. This body is generally convened to settle inter-village disputes among the member villages over resource use or refusal by any member village to adhere to the prescribed norms of the KBPs.
In their constitution the KBPs tend to be remarkably representative. KBPs, both at the village level and the apex level, comprise members from almost all castes/communities residing in the village. While the various castes continue to practice their customary social discriminatory practices, every caste has an equal say in these panchayats. In their informal administrative village panchayats,8 almost every caste, with the exception of chamars (they are taken to be complete outcastes and have a relatively small population in the village) has a representation among the patels. The chamars may not have a representative but most certainly have an equal right to be heard. The practice is also carried over to KBPs, which are, as mentioned earlier, adapted from the village panchayats. The number of representatives is in proportion to their strength in the village. Besides, villagers reinforce that though the decision-making rights are vested in the hands of the patels, they cannot function in an autocratic manner. Further, by making every family a member it is ensured that most of the village is represented and in turn equally shares the responsibilities of the KBP.
Involvement of women in KBPs is a complex issue. Gender discrimination is an integral part of Rajasthani culture. In keeping with tradition, women are prohibited from speaking or even being present in public forums. Thus on the face of it they do not take part in the KBPs. However, closer examination of the society reveals that the women are as keenly aware of the functioning and regulations of the KBPs as they are of any other village matter. They are the ones who do most of the fuelwood collection in the village and it is not possible that their reservations about the rules of the KBPs are not accommodated by the decision making body. Thus while the villagers of Nibhera claim that their KBP is still functional, at least in principle, one can witness women taking axes into the forests to collect fuelwood. The concession is made, not to allow them to chop green wood but to enable them to cut the dry and dead wood into manageable sizes so that it is easier for them to carry it back to the village.
The active involvement of women could be crucial to issues of KBPs. As per law, a third of the seats in the formal political panchayat are reserved for women. The active participation of these women in the KBPs can enable them to effectively represent issues of the KBPs in a larger political forum.
KBP & NGOs
The KBPs originated without the aid and assistance of any NGOs. In fact in 1996-97 the people of this area were not at all aware of the NGO culture. They were wary of any NGO that came to work in the area: for example, the Society for Sustainable Development (SSD) and a team from Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA, an independent institution).
However, after interacting with these two groups for about a year, during which these NGOs organised workshops for the interaction of the people with the FD, the villagers did see some role for NGOs in facilitating the better working of KBPs with the FD. They especially felt the need for NGOs to be involved as third parties in negotiations with the government-initiated activities. They felt that NGOs could act both as conduits of accessibility and help to bridge the communication gap that exists between the two parties.
Today SSD has soundly established itself and is working on several projects on natural resource management in the sanctuary. Over the years the villagers have always relied on and consulted Arun Jindal, Director, SSD, on all issues pertaining to the FD and to the Ecodevelopment Project. In some villages, SSD has established village-level institutions, referred to as Village Development Councils (VDCs). SSD has also started several self-help groups (SHGs) for promoting saving and thrift among villagers. It appears that the meetings of the VDCs and SHGs also serve as forums to discuss issues that were otherwise dealt with by the KBPs.
The underlying principle of all regulations and rules formulated by the KBPs are that no one harvests the forest resources in excess of their needs as well as safeguards the same from external threats so far as possible.
All the villagers have equal responsibility in keeping a vigil on the forests and promptly reporting to the patels about any untoward incident involving either people from their own village member or people from other villages. Meetings are then convened to address such issue. No action is taken against anyone unless witnesses as well as evidence are produced in the panchayat meetings. However not many get away by lying. The surest check against this is using religious sanctions against such acts. Irrespective of whether there is a witness or not, a man refrains from lying after having taken the oath of honesty in the name of the Goddess Ganga. This is known in local parlance as ganga utthana.
They have instituted varying amounts of fines depending on the nature of the offence. The KBPs may charge anywhere between Rs 11 and Rs 501. In general they levy a sum of Rs 21 for minor offences and Rs 251 for major offences involving a substantial amount of illegal felling. This money is then used as a welfare fund for the village. Sometimes they also levy fines on those who, after being summoned, failed to attend the KBP meetings.
In some villages the minutes of these meetings were maintained in a register. In other villages like in Nibhera no records were ever maintained.
The KBPs have no legal standing. They enforce the rules and regulations by imposing their social and religious sanctions.
Resource Use for meeting personal requirements
Unlike the FD’s interpretation, the idea of ‘ banning the axe’ is not the same as not permitting people to carry axes into the forests at all. Banning the axe is more a symbolic use of the phrase to signify the resolve to protect the forests and give up indiscriminate felling. It must be appreciated that the highest incentive for conserving the forests is to enable the sustained availability of resources for their survival.
Thus, unlike the rules framed by the FD that at times put a total ban on the use and extraction of some key forest resources, the KBPs have formulated flexible regulations that enable them to meet their genuine needs. For example, the forest department clearly bans the extraction of timber wood. The KBPs on the other hand permit the extraction of the same, albeit in a monitored fashion. An individual has to state his requirement at the KBP meeting and has to seek approval of the panchayat on whether the amount to be extracted is justified by his needs. The approval is given only for basic necessity, depending on the occasion.
Similarly people are occasionally allowed to carry an axe into the forests only to chop the dry wood into collectable sizes. While they do not object to carrying in an axe, they would certainly take the person to task if the person came back with green wood. Thus, so long as their basic principles are not compromised, the KBPS allow for some flexibility in the rules, only to facilitate their day-to-day existence.
The inter-village conflicts over natural resources are a constant feature, which are also effectively handled by the KBPs. Conflicts over common property resources are generally settled by the exchange of letters between the patels of the concerned villages. This letter has a great social bearing. The inter-village relationships are subject to the manner in which these letters are written and responded to. They also influence the manner in which the conflicts are resolved.
|Legal Status||Protected Areas under WLPA → Wildlife sanctuary|
|Community Forest Resource Rights (CFR)||-|
|Date of filing CFR claim||-|
|Level of CFR claim||-|
|Date of recognition of CFR claim||-|
|Management plan status||-|
|Other Recognised Status||-|
|Impact on Livelihoods and Subsistence||-|
|Social Impacts||Community empowerment, Empowerment of women/youth/disadvantaged sections|
|Internal Threats and Challenges||Conflict with other communities, Changing socio-cultural practices and aspirations|
|External Threats and Challenges||Restrictive laws and policies , Mega-development projects|
The Forest Protection Committees (FPCs) have not only been effective in checking the villagers but have in the past also accosted some FD officials, tried them in the FPC meetings, and levied appropriate punishment. The KBPs also assist the FD in keeping a check on illegal activities. In the past, there have been cases where they have taken culprits, mostly outsiders, to task first at their own level and then handed them over to the FD. This has happened mainly in cases where villagers have hauled trucks carrying illegal consignments of timber or other such big-scale offences. The people however complain that most of the times the FD does not pay heed or does not take any action against the offenders. The people place much more confidence in their own capabilities than on the FD to check the irregularities.
Another achievement has been that being involved in KBPs has helped a number of people to understand (at least to an extent) broader issues of ‘wildlife conservation’ as used in the FD’ s parlance. Some display awareness regarding their position as stakeholders and their ‘right’ to have a ‘say’ in decisions pertaining to the resources of the sanctuary. Such people however constitute a small percentage and include mostly people who are politically very keen or are employed in government service.
According to the FD, timber collection, fodder extraction, grazing of cattle (particularly through establishing cattle camps deep inside the forests) and fuelwood collection are major sources of threats to the sanctuary. The villagers confirm that under prevailing drought conditions (particularly in years like 2000-01), incidents of tree felling, especially in the densely forested khos inside the sanctuary increase.
The declaration of the sanctuary, and the subsequent imposition of regulations, has had several impacts on the people. Shortages have been reported from most villages in the sanctuary for fuelwood, fodder and timber. It is believed that partly because of the restrictions imposed, coupled with the effects of resource scarcity, the necessity to migrate has further heightened. In most villages their grazing areas have been denied and largely restricted to common grazing lands and village forests. People have been denied access to timber even for personal use. There have been allegations that very often lower-rank FD staff extort money for letting people take away timber for household use. Even though people are allowed to take away headloads for fuelwood, they are sometimes prevented from doing this, though it is not unusual for someone based inside the sanctuary to witness large-scale fuelwood collection from the forests or witnessing people moving in with their axes.
The closing of mines in and around the sanctuary has forced many people to migrate to distant places in search of work wages. People feel that the absence of basic amenities prevents them from venturing into alternative sources of income generation, including setting up dairies. In the initial stages of declaration of the sanctuary, the local staff used the possibility of relocation as a threat against the people. Although this is not the case after the initiation of the ecodevelopment scheme, people continue to be uncertain about relocation from the sanctuary.
The social dynamics of any community has a direct bearing on any such endeavours. There have been several instances where intra-community conflicts have marred efforts at organising KBPs. At Kailadevi, the Baragaon Ki Panchayat had not been able to stop the rampant illegal felling and lopping of fuelwood. Pre-eminent among the various reasons put forward were the disagreements based on caste differences and the feelings of being discriminated against. The jatavs of Kailadevi, who admit to selling fuelwood from the sanctuary, feel discriminated against by the FD.
The lack of legal recognition of KBPs
In 1996-97 the greatest lack that the KBPs felt was some sort of legal sanction by the FD. The need for legal empowerment was felt on several counts. First, it was important because sometimes threats of social sanction were not strong enough for those offenders who were outwardly mobile and were aware that these threats had no legal implications. Besides, with a gradual loosening of the community’s religious and social ties, communities feel constrained without any officially sanctioned powers. Second, it was necessary to enable them to check external threats against which they could only use the threat of physical force. Third, they felt that legal empowerment was also necessary to enable a wider functioning of the KBPs. For instance, they had suggested that in cases of losses suffered by the villagers due to wild animals, the report of the affected person, if endorsed by the FPC, should be considered valid and should be accepted by the FD (thereby avoiding the delays and harassment of having to get official inspections conducted).
Changing livelihood aspirations
A great disincentive for the KBPs is the increasing hardships that the people face in meeting their livelihood requirements from their present circumstances, and their changing aspirations. There have been consecutive years of poor rainfall. There already exists an acute shortage of water and fodder in the region. Adding to their misery are the restrictions imposed on account of the sanctuary. The villagers are aware that they cannot expand their agricultural activities.
|Data Source||From publicly available sources|
|Year of Study||2000|