Commons in Action
Country: India, Gujarat State
Type of resources involved: Forest Resources
What change happened to strengthen rights to the commons?
Wen the river is silenced and the water becomes deep, when there is nowhere to go and justice sold, people hear the voice
of their souls and set their own course to... ... re-define development...
The saga started during the nineties, with the development project construction of the Kadana dam,-on the one hand, a source of life for some and devastation, poverty and hunger for the many others. When thousands of people were displaced from their own land in the name of development-as a compensation package, they were provided with about 900 rupees for land in valley, 800 rupees for horticultural land and 600 for the other lands. In addition, some were given land, which was either far off or unsuitable for farming. Thus, in the process of struggle for existence, dire need of food and shelter, the people moved in groups into the forest area thus, resulting in the birth for a habitation named Moti Kyar. Surrounded by Kotra, Bhandara and Bhanasimal villages on three sides and Kadana Dam on the fourth, Moti Kyar village comprises four hamlets namely Kotha Faliya, Mota Faliya, Rainat Faliya, and Naka Faliya, which is the most affected one due to the backwaters of the Kadana.
Life begets life... is well proved in this context. The forest, which was earlier the source of food, fodder and fuel wood requirements now offered refuge to the population of about 300 households, 400 cattle, bullocks and goats.
The displaced people trying to identify their means for existence in the forestland were now called encroachers. Since their livelihood and survival were at threat, in order to support themselves and their families, they practiced farming in the nearby land. They obtained a receipt in return of the fine paid (200 rupees) for cultivating the so-called encroached land which served as a record for ownership for that land. However, 40 families were still considered encroachers. Also in order to fulfill their needs, the dependency on the forest produce increased and was an emerging threat to the existing resources.
However, with the passage of time the community realized that there was a need to strengthen the symbiotic relationship with the forest in order to keep the hillocks alive and green, and in the process they joined hands trying to re-create and manage the resources be it in the form of infrastructure or natural resource to enable them to maintain the ecological balance. They have formed institutions like Panchayat, dairy co-operative and forest development co-operative society in the village for governance and management of the systems and resources in Limited space... increasing population...result in Migration!!!
Since farming is rain fed and the average land holding is 1 -2 acres, the income generated through it is not enough to support a famly during a year; hence , it is observed that male members from the family generally migrate in the season not favorable for cultivation. People generally migrate to the nearby villages like Kheda, Rajkot etc. for agricultural labor while few also migrate to Surat and other towns for some work Iike masonry, construction etc.
The rate of migration is generally high in the viIlage. The pattern of migration for a period is of about 4-6 months in a year. The migrant members return during the rains in June-July to cultivate their own farms or to serve as agricultural labor in their village. About 850tb of the population is literate so migration for other jobs outside the village is also observed.
In this venture, the association with FES has provided them the guidance in the formation of institutions and its capacity building. Facilitating them in visioning their development and plan accordingly, FES has played a key role creating awareness about the ecology and its linkages with the livelihood and providing training about soil and water conservation measures along with other livelihood support activities like vermicompost etc., which would enhance agricultural production and also restore soil fertility. The organization has facilitated the formation of the federation, which is a platform wherein the village institutions from eight neighboring villages comes together to share and design the mechanism for protection to conserve the forest by addressing the intra and inter village
conflicts. To cut down the usage of fuel woods, energy conservation measures are taken up in form of smokeless chullahs. Thus, people of the village are trying to internalize the lessons and understanding about the social-ecological and economical inter-Iinkages in order to maintain the ecological balance , which has been the boon to the community.
Since farming is rain fed and the average land holding is 1 -2 acres, the income generated through it is n ot enough to support a family during a year; hence , it is observed that male members from the family general ly m igrate in the season not favourable for cultivation. People generally migrate to the nearby villages like Kheda, Rajkot etc. for agricuItural labour while few also migrate to Surat and other towns for some work Iike masonry, construction etc.
The rate of migration is generally high in the viIlage. The pattern of migration for a period is of about 4-6 months in a year. The migrant members return during the rains in June-July to cultivate their own farms or to serve as agricultural labour in their village. About 850/o of the population is literate so migration for other jobs outside the village is also observed.
Forests, being the integral part of their life became explicit when the utility of different tree species like: Timru, Ieaves for bidi making (about 500 leaves in one pack) ; Goonda, fruits eaten raw and used as vegetables; Mahuda, whose seeds are used to extract oil and whose flowers are used to manufacture the mahuda drink, and Gori Shyamali, for fruits; Ratanjyot, for fencing ; Aranda, for oil extraction and provision of shade to the young saplings during summer; Khakra leaves to make plates, which may be used during festivals or other occasions; Khajuri whose fruits are eaten, and its dried leaves are used to prepare broomsticks and sievers, was evidenced. Other species are Neem, Babul, Sag, Sheesam, Khair, Ber, Sadar, and Amba is also utilized. People can thus see the value of the efforts they have put in by looking atthe vegetation being restored.
Hence, with the vision of sustainable development, displaced people at Moti Kyar in association with FES- an institutional member of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) since 1 999 and regular participant at the Biennial Conferences since 1998-, are forging ahead and re-defining development to maintain the ecological balance.