ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Decentralisation of Natural Resources in Uttarakhand

The Local in Governance: Politics, Decentralization and Environment by Satyajit Singh, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016; pp xiv+262, first edition, ₹ 895.


The people of Uttarakhand had waged a long struggle for a separate hill state where they could enjoy autonomy in governance over three crucial natural resources—jal, jangal and zameen, or water, forest and land. However, while the demand of the state was fulfilled, the community was left with no role in natural resource management. The paradigm of contemporary development remains the same—destruction of natural resources to erect so-called monuments of development, such as dams and hydroelectricity projects (HEPs), road widening and rail-line expansion; a process that has further intensified under the current ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led state dispensation. Left with no choice, ordinary citizens, especially women, have kept up the struggle for their “own” government (Agrawal 2018).

In this context, the present book is a welcome contribution. It looks into the theoretical and practical attributes of two natural resources: forest and water. The book provides an in-depth framework to understand the institutions and politics of decentralisation, and explores why multilevel governance is necessary for the political and economic empowerment of local people and villages. The interests of the locally powerful oligarchy and other centres of power like the petty bureaucracy are often in dominance. There could be many conflicting interests and issues at the local level between different castes and classes, as also genders, that have implications for the management and governance of natural resources. Decentralisation is the way for conflicting groups to manage these resources without much hatred and animosity, although the author makes it clear that

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Updated On : 22nd Feb, 2019
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