This paper by Shankar Gopalakrishnan analyses case studies from different states and shows how governments & industries are subverting rights of the people to acquire common land and calls for accountable system to regulate land use.

During the present study it was observed that the Forest Development Agencies and Village Forest Committees play an important role in National Afforestation Programs by protection and conservation of natural resources through their active involvement.

Touted as the panacea for Delhi's drinking water problem, this dam can only be constructed by breaking a host of forest and environmental laws and riding roughshod over the livelihoods of farmers in about 30 villages of Himachal Pradesh.

A fundamental principle of livelihood is that work has a foundational value. It is opposed to the labour-commodity process where the foundational value of work is thoroughly undermined and where work is disembedded from society and taken out of it. In adivasi livelihoods, work is foundational and only through work does a person know what his or her potentialities are. The current adivasi struggles are at bottom attempts to reclaim this foundational value of work and all that it entails.

This article is based on a visit to Mundra taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat in January 2011 to understand first hand the plunder of common property resources. It focuses on the Mundra Port and special economic zone developed by the Adani Group and a thermal power plant of OPG Power and their impact on different sections of the local community.

The Guassa area of Menz in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia is an Afro-alpine ecological community with an indigenous resource management system. The local community harvest different resources including collecting grass and firewood from the Guassa area. Cattle and other livestock are also grazed in the Guassa area, especially during the dry season. Several sympatric species of endemic rodents dominate the small mammal ecological communities in the Guassa area, and form most of the diet of the endangered Ethiopian wolf.

In the past few years the struggle on ‘commons’ has intensified around the natural resources by the subaltern people. There is a direct conflict between people whose livelihoods are dependent on these resources and the state. This conflict is getting sharper with the growing onslaught of the neo-liberal policies of the state. In order to fight back the neo-liberal agenda, various people’s movements, social movements and independent trade unions on natural resources, such as forestry, fisheries, mining and water, have come together to fight collectively against the hegemony of the state.

In this final verdict on Ramgarh dam case, the Rajasthan High Court has ordered the state government to remove all encroachments from water bodies across the state and also cancel the illegal land allotments made close to them since 1955.

Some states have banned mechanised mining, but the mafia is not ready to obey. Illegal mining is hollowing the riverbed putting at risk the stability and ecology of rivers. This special report in Down To Earth examines the murky business of sand mining.

The traditional water harvesting system that existed decades ago in various Indian states is as relevant today as it was then and perhaps even more. Present day India is no stranger to nature’s fury like floods, drought, famine and hurricanes, and it would be well to learn from the old but true wisdom of traditional customs of water harvesting. There is also need to provide qualitative and quantitative irrigation to various agriculture fields to enhance the production of food grains and improve the livelihood of people in India.

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