Stressed woods

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:

Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015 | 21:11:47 PM

Stressed woods

-- 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 11#, core?

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 supported.

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 the management.

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 little clues.

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. Who decides?

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 manage.

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 government as well as organisations like the also believed the same, ideally we all should work together.

the owner. 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 devise a 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 Not be 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 of exclusion.

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 sanctuaries?

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 infrastructure?

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, efficiency.

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 growing grass.

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 right?

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 -.ot working.

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 phase.

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

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