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

Articles by Sharachchandra LeleSubscribe to Sharachchandra Lele

Decolonising Decentralised Governance

Three decades since the initiation of decentralised governance, and more than a decade since the first community forest resource right was recognised in Maharashtra, forest-dwelling communities still have limited space in decision-making about their forest resources. This article describes three cases from Maharashtra where bureaucratic overreach has impeded emerging forest management by forest dwellers holding community forest resource rights. It reflects on the need for changing the prevalent colonial mindset in the bureaucracy to facilitate genuine decentralised democratic governance.

Challenges in Regulating Water Pollution in India

With rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, the problem of water pollution in India has escalated dramatically over the last few decades. The regulatory apparatus, has, however, lagged behind. Major gaps in standard setting, including lack of standards for ambient water quality, poor monitoring and weak enforcement by the pollution control boards are the major proximate causes. Controlling water pollution will require a concerted effort to address these regulatory failures.

From Groundwater Regulation to Integrated Water Management

Groundwater over-exploitation poses a severe threat to food, water and livelihood security in India, but the approach to groundwater regulation has been guided by the simplistic prescription that to achieve sustainable use, pumping must be less than recharge. This article explains the hydrological cycle and the close relationship between groundwater and surface water, and argues that the conventional notion of sustainable groundwater use is fundamentally flawed. Groundwater, soil moisture and surface water are part of a single integrated resource, and cannot be regulated independent of each other. The solution is not sustainable use or the compartmentalisation of surface and groundwater but the fair and transparent reallocation of renewable freshwater resources.

Forest Governance

The Forest Rights Act provides a much-needed counterweight to state-centric forestry, as it reinstates the rights of forest dwellers in all dimensions of forest governance. However, the multi-stakeholder ecosystem of forests requires a multilayered governance framework in which the regulatory, funding and operational roles are separated and democratised. This will help resolve the prevailing tension and confusion regarding forest governance in the post-FRA era.

Focusing on the Essentials

Welcoming the debate on the assumptions underpinning water resource monitoring in India triggered by the Mihir Shah Committee report, the authors suggest that the proposed National Water Commission should focus on providing integrated data and science to help water managers and policymakers, avoiding getting directly involved in planning or regulation.

Dialogue Needed on Sardar Sarovar

The following is an Open Letter to Uma Bharti, Minister for Water Resources, Government of India: We the undersigned believe that the recent decision of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam by 16.76 metres (m) taking the height to the designed final...

Misreading the Issues and the Landscape

This response to the comment "Protecting India's Protected Areas" by Praveen Bhargav and Shekar Dattatri (23 April 2011) points out the authors' misreading of the Forest Rights Act and also of the report of the Joint Committee on the FRA.

A Structure for Environment Governance: A Perspective

A report on a round table held in November 2009 on the proposed National Environmental Protection Agency.

Supreme Court and India's Forests

The T N Godavarman vs Union of India case in the Supreme Court, also known as the "forest case", is an example of the judiciary overstepping its constitutional mandate. The court has effectively taken over the day-to-day governance of Indian forests leading to negative social, ecological and administrative effects.

A 'Defining' Moment for Forests?

The recent attempt by the ministry of environment and forests to arrive at a definition of "forests" has opened a Pandora's box with all stakeholders analysing the semantics threadbare. A deep appreciation of the complexities of the issues is required by all concerned to enable more locally specific, democratic and balanced structures of forest governance.

Issues in Restructuring

There is a need to reiterate the interconnectedness of the biophysical, socio-economic, and institutional aspects of watershed development from within a larger conceptual and normative framework for natural resource-based sustainable development.

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