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.

Rural common property resources represent the historically evolved institutional arrangements made by communities in dry regions (in the present case) to guard against the vulnerabilities and risks created by the biophysical and environmental circumstances characteristic of these areas. Despite their valuable contributions, CPRS are faced with decline in terms of both extent as well as contribution to the people, and therefore consequent neglect by the communities.

The livelihoods of poor livestock keepers in India primarily depend on the productivity of edible biomass available from common property resources (CPRs) like village commons, the roadsides, along railway tracts, canals, bunds etc. A pro-poor livestock development programme should focus on rejuvenating these resources through enabling policy measures and appropriate technology interventions which may increase the productivity of these lands, thereby increasing the livestock productivity dependant on them.

The transformation of human settlements over time can affect the relationship between communities and commons when, for example, social geographies change from rural to urban, or from traditional systems of management to modern bureaucratic systems. Communities that were dependent on particular commons could become less dependent, or abandon those commons. New communities of interest might emerge. Examining the transformation of a lake in Bangalore, this paper argues that in the community struggle towards creating and claiming commons, claiming the sphere of planning is fundamental.