Management ofprotected areas has been one of the principal bones of contention between the various shades of interested opinions in the country.
Environmentalists, social workers,
reasearchers, NGO activists, bureaucrats and parliamentarians got
together to hammer out a
formula in a debate organised by the Centrejor Science and
Environment (CSE) in October.
The participants in the debate were:
SANTOSH MOHANTY: Social Research Development Council, Mayurbhanj
BABA PANSARE: Parivartan Prabodhini, Pune
AVDESH KAUSHAL: Rural Entitlement Litigation Kendra, Dehradun
ALLAN WARNER: independant researcher, Dehradun
SUNITA NARAIN: Deputy Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi
NALIN JENA: Participatory Research in Asia, New Delhi
FARHAD VANIA: research scholar, Coirnbatore
RAMAN MEHTA: Protected Areas Programme, WWF
VISHESH: Protected Areas Programme, WWF
SHEKHAR SINGH: Indian Institute of Public Admisistration
ARVIND KHARE: Director, Conservation,wwF-India
MAHESH RANGARAJAN: researcher, Nehru Memorial Museum
ANIL AGARWAL: Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi
SACHIN SACHDEVA: Centre for Environment Education, Sawai Madhopur
RAVI CHELLAM: Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
DILIP SINGH BHURIA: Member of Parliament, Madhya Pradesh
I shall set the tone
9f the discussion by putting forth
*V issues - that of park-people
conflicts and that of a growing
!!Bpnccm for wildlife. Many of the
'Fiechanisms for conservation that
have been trying to develop are
really working today. The
n here is that do the peoplehave been involved with the Wing wildlife protection strate
'eally tbink that these strate
hdoes awre working, and if not, then
The present concept of pro-
!aml,g forests is to try and create a
V.and then a buffer around it.
,h gave me a figure which
that there are some 5,000 vil
!C inside core areas with an
roximate total population of
@ct two-and-half lakh. These people exert preson the core area, while the animals living in that
create their own pressures.
Besides that, you have animals coming from the
%r into the buffer and affecting human and animal
and agriculture. People living in the buffer areas
Cleave an impact on their surroundings; but can
be allowed to go into the core and collect bio
aim or hunt? Which leaves us with these two ques
tions: can people live in the core? And can they use
There are, of course, external
pressures on this environment.
There are illegal pressures, exerted
by smugglers; there are legitimate
pressures exerted by people who
need these regions for their survival or for development purposes, by biomass collectors, bio-diversity collectors, animal cullers
or by industry. And then, of
course, there are the pressures of
the state and its officials. Also,
there are the interests of conservationists - 'the eminent domain'
who would like to protect
the environment, and of eco-developmentalists, who feel that
the marginalised and the poor
must be given full empowerment and support.
Now this raises a number of
issues: should people stay in the core area? Should
people be allowed to use the core area? Should people be involved in the management of the conserved
area? Who will take decisions about the resources of
the core and the buffer?
To me, the central issue is really that of management. How do we manage all these resources? I have
already mentioned the different ways of looking at
these issues. But how do we bring all this into our
management systems, because these systems must
also reflect the diversity of views and concerns.
What we have today is the state-run manage-
ment approach. Do we have an alternative to it? One
is to let state management continue in these areas,
but propagate eco-development in the surrounding
areas, especially in the buffer zones. In this case, the
management system should let the resources of the
core remain with the state; people should be taken
out from there, but those living around it should be
A third, yet undeveloped approach which is
coming up is that of people's management. It again
can have three different approaches: people manag-
ing it themselves; people under the state, where the
management system is a combination of the local
people and the state; the people, the state and the
eminent domain involved in
For me, the important thing is how to deal with
pIe. Are we fair to the poor
particularly to the margin-alised people? Are we looking
after nature properly? Are our ,"
survival and development systems in harmony with the
local environment? At the
Central government level in
India, a combination of the
state and the eminent domain
does function. The wildlife
committees set up by the government always have NGO representation; people are, however, missing. This is accepted In the government, though
not at the level of.micro-management. So, while a concept
is admitted at a certain scale, it is not necessarily accepted.
OThe enormous diversity in the
ways we are doing things, in the problems and issues that
we confront is a result of this.
SHEKHAR SINGH: The basic reason why people want to conserve wildlife has changed
over time. Unfortunately, the
debate is often seen as a
wildlife versus people debate
which brings out unhealthy schisms of people versus
the bureaucracy; I think the debate is really between
one class of people and another. There are the rich or
the powerful people who have taken control of all
the resources of the country and are not leaving any
options to the poor, who then have no other alternative but to turn to those who are weaker: the animals. Why not then turn this battle against the big land-lords who are sitting on huge chunks of land? If we could bring about land reforms in a 25 km
area around the parks and sanctuaries, 90 per cent of
m the problem would get solved. Also, while the
dichotomy between the people's management and
the state's management exists, in a democracy it is
not a qualitative but quantitative difference -how
direct or indirect a control people have. If an indi-
vidual has to deal with the Parliament to get his or
her rights at the local level, it isa very indirect con-
trol. As far as direct control is concerned, there is a
constraint on the part of the government to hand
over more direct control, while there is also a hesita-
tion sometimes among the people to accept it.
ANIL AGARWAL: Just one question. You said that
this debate of people versus the bureaucracy
is unhealthy; but do you agree it is also factually incorrect?
SHEKHAR SINGH: Factually the debate does take place;
every segment of society has a
conflict, and so has the state
~E OF THE. and the people. Personally I
I am more interested in synthesising rather than polarising;
there is greater merit in synthesising when one is weak.
SUNITA NARAIN: I think this
whole process of collaboration where we are trying not
, to distinguish between the
state and people by saying that the state is after all the
3people, this attempt which is
being made by conservationists to defend the role of the
bureaucracy in managing or
not managing our natural
resources is what weakens the debate.
And I think it is about
time the debate got completely polarised for us to be able
to see that there are other
options. Who says we do not
want to work with the forest
officials? But do they want to
work with us? On whose
terms do we want to work?
SHEKHAR SINGH: Polarisation
has already taken place, at
least in the deba'te. I think the
problem of 'on whose terms
are we to work' is valid; the
important thing is who is this 'we'. I do not recognise
NGOS to be democratic institutions, When we talk of
'we' then it is not the NGOS we are talking about, but
the electorate representatives.
SUNITA NARAIN: We need some comments on this
issue of the bureaucracy. Is it possible to take the
bureaucracy along with us? Is the bureaucracy
changing because of what we have said?
SACHIN SACHDEVA: Bureaucracy, even if it is not open
to change, can see the effects of what is actually hap-
pening. Forests are being degraded despite being
under their charge, and they are realising that.
Today the Rajasthan forest department, for
instance, accepts the fact that somewhere down the
people have just got to be involved in the entire
ess of management. How and when? They have
AVDESH KAUSHAL: I am very uneasy with this concept.
wnis that you have already decided that you
best. Can you tell us how you call yourself
mocrats? In Dehradun last week, the Forest
ch Institute (FRI) decided to cut 100 very old
go trees near the campus to make houses for its
ployees. The FRI says we can do it, but you cannot.
SACHIN SACHDEVA: The point is not that you know
is going to decide, but it is of constitutional
rity which is bestowed upon a certain department to take decisions. I think if somebody has got take a decision, the best thing would be for the
le's representatives to do that.
But today, it is a contextual kind, of situation; the
authority of the forests, unfortunately or fortunately,
with the forest department. It is at that point that
axne change has to take place in attitudes and thinking.
RAVI CHELLAM: I think one of the major issues which
we should all took into is wildlife conservation. We
to be looking at it unrealistically, in isolation,
narmwly focusing it as a people versus wildlife issue
a change in the system, not taking into consideration things like liberalisation, the ongoing industrial
lopment, the population growth. We somehow
e that the forests would not be affected by the
of the way society is developing. Whatever is
ppening in Indian society is reflected in almost
walks of life. For instance, the migration patterns
he guJars have undergone changes owing to societal transformations.
Wildlife management in this country is non-
Wint. Management can take place only when you
knowledge, and we don't have that.
ANIL AGARWAL: I think he has made a very important
t. What he is essentially saying is that the cur
t state of management systems are not built upon
issues and you cannot manage without knowl
Possibly what we call the bureaucratic 'wood
ess' is partly due to the fact that most of the
ucratic management is without knowledge.
AVDESH KAUSHAL: I was involved in training bureau-
Is. Their way of training and selection makes
In experts without, providing them with any
ce of really seeing wildlife. And they declare us
ignorant; this attitude of doubting the locals'
wledge is something I strongly object to.
As far as the case of the gujjars is concerned, it is
ng to say that migration has stopped. Ninety-five
@Mfcent of the people still migrate. Pathri - the
ement colony for gujjars - was constructed in
-2@ and not a single soul went there. While we only
@ !& of sustainable development, they practice what
ROtally sustainable development. They log the same
tw in the same area for many years. Six months they
a there, and the next six they go up in the mead-
ows; this is how regeneration takes place.
As soon as the gujjars migrate, the forest department auctions their huts. When the gujjars come
down, they have to give them salami and dasturi (the
local systems of bribe). That is why they leave back
old men or a few old buffaloes. And armchair
wildlife enthusiasts, knowing that these gujjars have
gone up, take a Justice Poti to assess the situation in
Rajaji National Park. For God's sake, do not take any
decisions about the gujjars when they are not there to
speak for themselves.
SACHIN SACHDEVA: There is a knowledge base which
exists with people in villages and indigenous communities. There is also a knowledge base which exists
with the scientific community. Both these bases are
essential in today's environment. There is a case for
carefully synthesising this traditional knowledge
with the scientific knowledge that exists today. The
only word that comes to my mind is 'joint'; we have
to think in terms of a joint mechanism for ensuring
that the knowledge base is preserved and developed upon. MAHESH RANGARAJAN: The question is that if you
want to protect wildlife and its habitat in a jungle,
can you imagine such a jungle in a country like India
in which not a single human being goes? You know
the type of figures we are dealing with: three million
people living in and around these areas. I am not
suggesting that do not move them. We have to begin
by accepting the enormity of this problem.
We ought to have some form ofjoint management where there is a lot of consultation and people
are involved at every step. But how do we do this?
Particularly with a department which has had over
100 years of tradition managing these areas without
consulting the people? There are others who are
thinking in terms of people's management. That you
have not a few wildlife sanctuaries, but several areas
which may vary in size, which are managed with bio-
diversity and problems of livelihood kept in mind.
But to do that, you will have to think of alternatives
in terms ofpower, property and control.
People who are talking about alternatives are
basically saying that these areas should be protected,
but for whom? There is a basic difference between
the people who want to protect these areas so that
others can go and can have elephant rides, and those
who are looking at forest protection programmes in
context of the people. There is a polarisation. How
do we bridge this gap? And while bridging it, should
we think of an alternative? Without an alternative,
can we bridge it?
AVDESH KAUSHAL: We should keep this proposal in a
meeting. The gujjars shall continue to give you taxes,
they shall continue to follow and abide by all the
rules you have, but hand over the management of
the forests to them for five years. Form a committee
of wildlife experts, forestry officials and others. And
if they are successful, then give them more areas to
DILIP SINGH BHURIA: Tribals are the primary inhabitants
of the forest 'areas of our country. And they
have a deep relationship with the forests. But as our
country developed and the need for forests
increased, at some places they were put under pressure and at other places, attempts were made to
destroy them. Now the question is how to save these
forests and who should do it - the government or
the people. I am also a part of, a member of the
government, and we must accept that till today,
whatever efforts have been made, have failed.
Recently, the government of mp announced and
notified a national park at Bilaspur district. There
were 40 tribal villages there. If we take even 1,000
tribals per village, can we take out 40,000 tribals
from there and resettle them outside? Can we imag-
ine how they will go on with their livelihood? In
Denmark, there is a death penalty by hanging for
anyone who cuts a tree. But is that possible in our
country? So if anyone is at fault, it is the department.
This is my very clear opinion.
The people themselves should have the confi-
dence and belief that forests are theirs. So how do we
link environment with social justice? How do we
ensure that the villager gets his rights? The person
who stays in the forest has a right in the forest. He is
the owner. This confidence and assurance must arise
in him. Democracy can be strengthened in our
country only if this confidence is there.
ANIL AGARWAL: I want to ask D S Bhuria a question. I
will narrate a personal experience, and I want you to
respond to this as a politician.
Shekhar bhai had said that ultimately, when you
look at the system, everything seems to be under the
control of the people; after all, people only elect the
Parliament, which runs the country. So why is it that
people feel the government does not listen to what
they have to say?
And why does not the government work? About
three years ago, Avdesh had told me that the gujjars
were in a very bad state. They were not being allow
to Vter their hornegrounds, their aniffials were
dying. I have also
held this belief that unless we c
look at environmental issues linked
with the people
we cannot save the environment. People stay in t
environment, it is a part of their lives, they ha
rights in this and
their beliefs also say that th
should protect it.
I arranged a lecture for the guJars, and placed t
matter before the public. In that meeting, I ask
them a question:
did they want to save the forest
People were saying that if they
stayed in the fores
The person Who stays in the forests will be finished. They said that they denitely wanted to save the forests. SO, I asked the
the forest has that
if they believed forests should be saved, and
as well as organisations like the
also believed the same, ideally we
all should work together.
I suggested to them
that instead of raising the
issue of resettlement - since that had
connotation confidence and
of kindness and sympathy doled out by the
government - they should confront the problem. T
should say that we too want to save the forests, so we
will work together to do it. And the government
should make such a management
system that we so have a say in it.
The gujjars having agreed
to my proposal, we
went to Kamal Nath and asked him why did he
management system in which everyone
worked together, since he too
realised their problems? I suggested as an experiment, he could
declare it as a people's management park, to be run with
help Of NGOS.
He could also constitute a team of eco-logical experts who will
decide the ecological chateristics of the forest. We could devise a
time-boun plan and take this as a challenge: that in five or
years, this should be the ecological status of the forest; in case we
cannot do that, he could remove us.
The minister agreed that forests could
saved by guns, by buil
walls or by guards. Whic
meant that at the inteil
tual level, he was in agre
ment with me. But
processes in our society
such that despite
politician - who is t
people's representative -
being in power, nothi
changes. This propo
too, did not go anywhe
That is my question
D S Bhuria: why doest happen?
DILIP SINGH BHURIA:
democracy is in a tran
tion period. The und
standing of the people
yet to mature; the day
happens, there would no
longer be any problems.
But how do we mandge this? Today, while the
nunufacturer is a millionaire, the bidi-maker is
poor as he always was. This is the basic fight.
racy has given us the right to vote equally. But
economic rights, the rights of the poor, these
rights need to be looked after. Now the government is seriously attempting to do something.
BABA PANSARE: I have another problem in front of
if we gave the control to the people, who should
se people be? The people who exploit villagers?
What role will a person belonging to the lower secns of society have in this management? Who is
naging for whom? In this management, although
have voting power, do we have equality? This
etoric on management, will it bring about an
lity in the villages?
Secondly, what do the intellectuals stand to gain
m this management? Do not look at environment
only the point of view of the tree. Environment
social problems. Therefore, it is essential to
ach social aspects in its management.
SHEKAR SINGH: I think there two different levels at which we need to look at the issue. First is, what is
r explicit strategy? It was, and still is, irrational.
he strategy for national parks and sanctuaries
Juded policing: you build fences, walls, moats and
your forest guards. Our traditional strategy was
Today, there is some effort at a change in this
tegy. There is a movement towards eco-development. People feel that if the world or the nation lieves biodiversity to be important and wants to
conserve it, then it should pay for it too. Why should
cost be paid by the poor who stay inside the parks
The basic philosophy is that if it is necessary to
inimise or bring down the human utilisation of an
ea, alternatives which are sustainable must be
eloped with our money. While I talk about eco-development, there are people who talk about joint
protected area management; then there is the third
ool of thought which says that we should hand
FeT these institutions to the people totally, I feel
re has to be a process of transition, because there
internal conflicts within society.
But there is a counter argument: because there is
onflict within society at the village level, is that the
on forest management should be taken over by
state? Is not the state too riven by conflicts?
SUNITA NARAIN: The point of the debate is that the
ddlife bureaucracy is on the run. The question is:
like in 1990, when the crucial moment came at
e time of the afforestation debate, how far are you
1-diing to push the system?
They (the forest department) introduced the
collaborators' when we asked them to give control
the people. The collaborators said, we'll give you
n easy way out. We will give you JFM or joint forest
management - a joint way to involve the people
thout giving them control. You got something as
froactive as the JFm Act. This, according to them, is
the interrijediary step before change can be brodght
about; after all, you cannot hand over the forests to
the people. You need a process by which you have a
joint management and then a full management.
In 1995, the same foresters have produced a
Forest Bill, which has never been as anti-people as it
is today. Where is the change? Are we really going to
go through all the phases, the metamorphosis, and
still end up a caterpillar? Or are we really going to
metamorphosise into a butterfly and do we have a
short cut for that?
SHIEKHAR SINGH: I don't think the bureaucracy is on
the run. It is not a problem only with the forest
bureaucracy, but with everything; it is a systemic
problem. And therefore I feel that we do not have the
strength to polarise.
As far as the Wildlife Protection Act amendment
goes, I would Ue to say that if you compare the 1991
amendment to the prior Act, you will find that the
amendment is, in most cases, more progressive.
Before 199 1, no rights were allowed in a sanctuary; I
remember fighting very hard for this. In fact, it is
only after the 1991 amendment that legally people
could be allowed to live in a sanctuary.
The only so called regressive step in the 1991
amendment is the proviso that while earlier people
could exploit resources from within a sanctuary,
now they cannot. This was introduced because the
resources were being used primarily not in the interest of the tribals and the local people, but for commercial deforestation of sanctuaries.
AVEDESH KAUSHAL: There was no restriction on habitat
for the traditional, or, forest people in Rajaji previously. After the passage of the Act, there is now, after
1991, restriction. You say that now they allow the
people inside the protected areas, parks and sanctuaries, let them live there. Then why are they forcing people to come out?
SHFICHAR SINGH: I will give you a comparison. Rajaji
is an intended national park. Nobody was allowed to
stay in a national park, before or after 199 1; so there
is no change in the 1991 status.
The only thing that has been allowed in a sanctuary before or after 1991 is grazing. The change that
was made in 1991 was that if somebody had a right in
a sanctuary, which was not contradictory to the
interests and objectives of the sanctuary, he or she
could be allowed to retain that right. In Rajaji, the
problem is - irrespective of the 1991 amendment
- that as long as it is a national park, no rights will be allowed.
BABA PANSARE: When public interest is there, you talk
about laws; now those people who live in the sanctuaries, what interest do they have? No one asks them.
Whatever notification is released, an advertisement
should be given mentioning the public interest and
which public it is meant for. What actually is the rea-
son for this debate? Avdheshji is saying that you give
the forests to us and we will protect it. We will get the
trees, we will get the hills, but what about the rainfall,
the water, the dams that are about to be built? Who
will have the rights to the rest of the development
FARHAD VANIA: The debate seems to have gone on at
various levels. I think the purpose will be better
served if we limit ourselves at this point to talk about
the national strategy.
What do we need a conservation strategy for? Do
we need it for future generations? Do we need it for
bio-diversity? Do we need it for the immediate legitimate resource needs of local communities? Do we
need it for industries? Perhaps we could limit our
debate to what is the strategy. Should therobe a
strategy? If yes, what should this strategy be?
The problem will come in implementation of a
strategy. So let us come to some common agreement
what this national strategy for wildlife conservation
should be and where do people - the local communities - stand. The eminent domain has to be, in some senses, peripheral. Wildlife is central; the people who stay in the forests are central.
ARVIND KHARE: We are segregating wildlife or forests
from the nation's socio-economic development. The
present strategy for conservation is limited to expansion of the parks and sanctuaries.
I wish to cite three specific things. Firstly, the rate
at which this expansion has taken
place is amazing; between 1975 and 1995, about 680,000 ha per
annum have been converted into parks and sanctuaries. When you
are expanding at that rate, what do
you do with the people who are
living there? Secondly, I am not
convinced that biodiversity or
wildlife preservation has to be in
the absence of human intervention. We are not sure of that,
hence we place restrictions on
people who are least able to defend
themselves. Thirdly, there is a tendency on the part of the government to bend rules when it comes
to leasing out forests or mining
etc. We are not really looking at
what right we can enunciate in our
legal system itself which will take care of this.
ANIL AGARWAL: I think one of the issues that has
clearly emerged is really the problem of erosion of
our faith in the governance system. To a certain
extent, it is that which is dividing us. There is, therefore, also a need for us to work together on the whole
issue of governance of this country and its natural resources.
We need societies as well as governments that are
open and prepared to innovate. What most annoyed
me about Kamal Nath's statement was that it indicated that the system was closed to innovation and experimentation. If you cannot experiment, it
sounds the death knell of the system.
The second point is that you cannot marginalise
people. How can you neglect their interests? There is
one thing that we have to recognise: the people
talk about the questions of poverty, empowerment,
etc must also begin to take on the is@ues of science,
A technical issue that comes in here is two-folli,
when people live inside a sanctuary or a core area, 0
they really destroy the wildlife? I am not sure. If th%
do, is it a bullclosing destruction of wildlife or is it Y
selective destruction? If it is selective, then what aib
those minor mechanisms which are needed to deM, with it?
Also, lack of knowledge leads to all kinds A
problems. Take the case of Bharatpur. When natioal parks were announced in 1980-81, there police firing in Bharatpur; the issue was stoppin,&
buffaloes from coming into the sanctuary. WherV
did we technically go wrong? Bharatpur's key inter-
est was not the preservation of the eco-system, ble
the preservation of birds. By keeping the buffaloes
out, you allowed too much grass to grow. Ultimate*
you had to bring back the buffaloes to control the
The same thing happened in the Valley of
Flowers. The authorities kept the people and the ang!
mals out, but allowed the tourists to come in on their
horses. Weeds crept in with the horse-shit, and th
spread and now they are taking over the eco-syste]
These are technical arguments. You cannot harp
people all the time. You have to challenge y1l.
opponents on their ground and say: is your scien
The debate is about how we move ahead an
develop a constructive alternative which works.
final point is the question ofwhether people will say
the forests. People share a certain relationship with
forests. If they are given power over the forests, they
will protect or destroy them within that relationship
Some want to keep the forest because they want fire-
wood, some for fodder; that is one level of thinkinA
But there could be a higher level of thinking that says
keeping the forest has economic value. And I thin
this where economists'have to get into the game in
a vary serious manner.
I have always wondered why the state here did
t go and say to the villagers that we will help you
-elop hotel facilities. It could be a great exotica for
e middle class. All tourism revenue could go back
the local people. I am sure that if you did all these
ings seriously, you will create a situation where
ere is an economic interest in the park. We have to
k at all these alternatives and confront the admin-
siration on their economics, on their effectiveness
d on their science.
SHEKHAR SINGH: It has been proposed to use the
%ironment Protection Act to prevent tourist facilities from coming up in an area around a park or a
sanctuary which is not controlled by the people of
area. I feel that within the bureaucracy, there are
le who are more progressive.
Our main enemy is not the state. We have greater
mies: for example, history is our enemy. I feet
!@ut instead of being worried about being coopted by
bureaucracy, we need to coopt the bureaucracy
,nto this particular thing.
KH"x: I think the bureaucracy is not only a
rson; it is also an attitude. Besides, with the kind of
'onomic systems being adopted globally and
nationally, bureaucracy is becoming a slightly
significant player in the whole game. Therefore to
-educe this debate to only state versus people kind of
!ng,wfll be wrong.
RAVI CHELLAM: I do not think we are really divided.
Ie might differ in details or in our approach and
,inguage. But we are all trying to see how best we can
volve people. There is no doubt that the system is
It is a function of how the society itself is viewing
_ne whole thing. A forest guard, paid about Rs 1,000
mnonth, will hardly risk his life to save wildlife when
rest of the society does not really care. If the
11110rcdian society really chose to value biodiversity, I do
18L@! think most of our protected areas would be in
NwAiw sorrv state which they are in.
SACHIN SACHADEVA: I really do not think that the faith
bw -he government has eroded. What has happened
in the bureaucracy is probably being reflected by
is really is happening in society. I do not feel
Ct a shift towards people in the present circumstences is very advisable. The checks and balances
We can be established by the people and govern
working along with each other, on each other,rllobably the best mechanisms in this intermediate
MAHESH RANGARAJAN: I feel that if you wish to see
me elements of this programme of biodiversity
ection and conservation to succeed, you will
to begin to break with the older notions of
Crvation. The only thing which is very positive
nere is that there is still a lot of biodiversity outside
parks and sanctuaries.
FARHAD VANIA: My concern at this point is that
Pildlife conservation today is not a political question.
It c*es not figure on any kind of political agenda. It is an afterthought. There are very few people
who are really interested in wildlife conservation and
there are even fewer people who are interested in
wildlife conservation without alienating the local
people. In the course of my protected area related
work I have found that people in the region do not
really know what is happening. So there is the need
there for some kind of communication.
ALLAN WARNER: The most logical thing put forth here
has been that we need some flexibility to try the different visions and opinions. I think really what people should be doing in forums like this is asking what
needs to be done to create some flexibility in the system, rather than arguing for the respective systems
they stand for.
AVDESH KAUSHAL:We will soon be presenting an alternative plan to the nation's scientific community
for managing the Rajaji Park. We are taking the help
of scientists and scientist- turned- bureaucrats. We
are trying and Anil is helping us along with others.
The plan concerns not only wildlife, but botany,
sociology and anthropology; how to manage and
spend; how much we have spent till date on the proposed Park and what are the results; and who will take decisions.
SAROJ MOHANTY: The comments expressed here on
the working of government officials are almost one-
sided. Only government officials cannot possibly
make things so worse; there is also a lot-of political
and personal interference. However, we must be
thankful to the bureaucracy because they have given
us an opportunity to criticise them here.
ANIL AGARWAL: We are to be thankful to the bureaucracy? They have given us the right to criticise the
bureaucracy? That is my democratic right!
Bureaucracy has not given me that right.
SUNITA NARAIN: I think there is enormous frustration
and anger against the present immobile system. We are trying to change; we know that. We are working with the best within the system. The people assembled here are an example of that.
But the system per se is bad, dying and defunct.
We are standing at a threshold where we will either
get eco-development, buffer zone management or
nothing. I think that if an intervention has to be
made to say that we may want eco-development, but
we want eco-development which enunciates people's rights and controls, which goes beyond planting trees and buffer zones to give them fuel and fodder, which gives them rights and controls in the
management, it has to be done today.
ANIL AGARWAL: Well, I think we can end with the positive note as enunciated by Sunita, that the bureaucracy is good at some things. I do not have much to add and I must thank you all very much. No hard
feelings; all the hard words were about issues and not people.
This is an edited version of the debate. The CSE will shortly publish the complete text in theform of a book
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.