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Institutionalising Common Pool Resources Management

Pasture development interventions under various schemes of advancement of common pool resources have given mixed results in Rajasthan. Facilitating agencies must be aware of the local dynamics and conflicting interests and should promote village institutions keeping in view local factions and their inclinations. It is not the formally registered or constitutionally acknowledged body, but the underlying structures that make CPR management systems successful while rendering some others unsuccessful.

Institutionalising Common Pool Resources Management Case Studies of Pastureland Management

Pasture development interventions under various schemes of advancement of common pool resources have given mixed results in Rajasthan. Facilitating agencies must be aware of the local dynamics and conflicting interests and should promote village institutions keeping in view local factions and their inclinations. It is not the formally registered or constitutionally acknowledged body, but the underlying structures that make CPR management systems successful while rendering some others unsuccessful.


n Rajasthan, commonland contributes significantly to the livelihoods of rural people. Jodha observes that in the dry regions of India (including Rajasthan), rural poor are heavily dependent on common pool resources (CPRs) which supply most of their fuel and grazing. It is also an important source of employment and income for the poor, especially in periods when other opportunities are not available [Jodha 1986]. Further, a large population in Rajasthan depends on animal husbandry, which contributes 19 per cent to the state domestic product [UNDP 2001], underlining the importance of village commonlands which provide a major source of fodder.

The availability of commonland is also high in the state, about 1.64 million ha. Over a period of time the commonland has degraded extensively; over 40 per cent commonland areas have become less poductive or unproductive due to excessive grazing, heavy soil erosion caused by felling of bushes and trees and complete neglect by the community [Hegde et al 2001]. To get over this problem of commonland degradation, silvipasture development activities have been undertaken widely under various government-sponsored rural development schemes.1 Under these programmes, an area of 50-100 ha of commonland each has been developed in thousands of villages in the state.

Large investment in pastureland development does not mean that the intervention is well managed all the way. In a number of cases these pastures have depleted after the completion of the project (under which it was developed) period as the implementing agencies withdrew. Open grazing, felling of trees, damage in the boundary wall, stones of check dams being stolen were the common features found [Kumar and Mishra 2001]. These results have raised concerns among the stakeholders of the programme over the sustainability of created assets. However, failure does not characterise all the villages – there are silver linings as well. There have been examples of well-established management systems organised by people on their own.

These diverse observations take us to the age-old debate on CPR management. In this paper the attempt has been to discover the factors that have led to the success/failure of the CPR management system. As part of this study, six villages in Rajsamand district were studied. The process of the establishment of the management system – how the CPR development works started; how the problems were dealt with; and what led to the present situation – form the subject of analysis.

I Theories of Collective Action and Commonland Development

Early theories related to CPR management are based on the premise that human beings are basically selfish and their ever increasing economic wants lead to the exploitation of commons. Hardin’s work Tragedy of Commons says that people tend to overexploit commons in order to make individual gains [Hardin 1968]. Olson has tried to define the factors of interest groups and pressure groups leading to collective action. He challenged a generally held view that groups of individuals having common interests usually work together to achieve them, though he expressed his reservation on the applicability of his statement to a small group of individuals [Olson 1971]. The prisoners dilemma game highlights the fact that lack of communication leads all the parties to lose. These theories capture important aspects of CPR management, but they also do not exhaust all possibilities regarding solutions to management problems. At most, they can fit into specific situations particularly in extreme cases. In the context of an Indian village the flow of information among the users is very high, and these theories may not be able to adequately explain the situation. In fact, these theories can have dangerous implications when they become the basis for policy prescriptions [Ostrom 1990:6]. The domain of collective action is an evolving one and a certain degree of openness to empirical realities would help develop better policies. For that we would have to stop being prisoners of the overarching frameworks of collective action.

The recent works on CPR management have improved upon these theories. Elinor Ostrom, in her empirical work Governing the Commons (1990) has analysed the long-enduring, self-organised and self-governed CPRs. Recognising that communities may come forward to develop institutions that can provide a viable solution to the CPR related problem, she suggested a set of eight design principles for CPR management. Her framework helps in

Figure 1: Research Design

Cluster 1 Cluster 2 Effective system (1 village) Failed system (2 villages) Effective system (2 villages) Failed system (1 village) Process: Events associated with the process of developing the system Factors responsible for success/failure of the system

understanding a CPR management institution better. Wade (1988) in his work spelt out the conditions for organisation for the successful management of CPRs. The Oakerson’s Model [Oakerson 1986] can be used to diagnose CPR problems. Adams et al (2002) provide a framework for policymakers. They say that resource managers with the power to make relevant decisions may be part of formal or informal institutions. Jodha’s study, which covered 88 villages all over India attributes the success or failure to lack of neglect of institutional factors, a tendency to overemphasise technical factors and externally controlled interventions [Jodha 2001].

However, the problem of explaining the process of success and failure in establishing a CPR management system continues to be there and as a result we have a large number of failures even today. Ostrom mentions that using the earlier theories it is not easy to explain why some appropriators could maintain the collective institutions while others could not [Ostrom 1990: p 185]. Katar Singh (1994) observes that CPR management is a relatively nascent area of specialisation. As we have discussed earlier, commonland development is an important intervention in rural development programmes. As a matter of principle, these programmes are implemented with people’s participation and this turns the task of CPR development into an institution building exercise. Chopra et al (1990: p 144) say that participatory models are difficult to establish. Hence, it becomes more important to understand the process of establishing people’s institutions for effective utilisation of the large investment and sustainable management of the CPRs.

This paper tries to understand the process followed in the context of government-funded watershed management projects which were developed through the intervention of an external facilitating agency. Also, these are small sized CPRs (ranging from 50-250 ha approximately) and have been seven-eight years old at the time of the study (year 2001). Thus we cannot say that these are selforganised and long-enduring CPRs and hence Ostrom’s design principles might not fit into it. The analysis in this paper would be more relevant in determining the factors for institutionalising the pasture management systems.

II Study Area, Objectives and Methodology

The study area comes in Rajsamand district that lies in the southern part of Rajasthan across the Aravali mountain ranges. This part of the state is topographically undulating and mainly rainfed. It has faced several recurring droughts and has perennial water scarcity, the national watershed development project for rainfed areas (NWDPRA) was considered a boon for the region. In all, 67 villages were covered (during the first phase2) in this programme in the district of which pasture deve lopment was undertaken in 32 villages. A preliminary estimate showed

Figure 2: The IAD Framework for Institutional Analysis

Physical/Material Conditions Action Arena Attributes of Community Rules-in-use Actors Patterns of Interaction Outcomes Evaluative Criteria Action Situations

Source: Ostrom 1999.

that in about half of these 32 villages pastures were managed properly after the completion of the project period while in the other half they depleted. The department of watershed development and soil conservation (WD and SC) of the govern ment of Rajasthan was the project implementing agency (PIA) for NWDPRA.

Preliminary discussions with PIA officials revealed that pastureland development works in Sangawas and Sundarcha villages (located in different clusters) were the most successful experiences and they were doing well even in the post-project phase. However, pastures developed in the neighbouring villages were found to have depleted. It was interesting to note that despite being situated in the vicinity of “successful” villages under the guidance of the same implementing agency there have been contrasting results. For a comparison of the process and results, two other villages where the pastures were not successful were selected in each cluster: Cluster 1: Sakroda-Sundarcha watershed (area treated: 3,864 ha), villages: Sakroda, Sundarcha, Dipti; Cluster 2: Kamli watershed (area treated: 3,524 ha), villages: Sangawas, Kundeli and Rashmi.

Figure 1 explains the research design. Before finalising the study villages, a visit to each of them was undertaken to determine the status of the pasture. Interestingly, when we visited the villages we found that the village Kundeli had an established system of pasture management and we termed it as a successful case, although the PIA, because of the low survival of plantations considered it a failure. By success we hereby mean “Controlled and sustainable use of treated pastures backed by appropriate institutional arrangements”. There are two markers of success for this study and both have to be found in any “successful” initiative:

  • Controlled and sustainable use of pasture
  • Appropriate institutional arrangement
  • Data collection involved discussions with the villagers with the help of a checklist and interviews with key persons who were directly associated with the CPR management in the villages (members and main office bearers of the institutions). Discussions were also held with the PIA officials. To understand the location of villages vis-à-vis the users’ settlement, resource mapping was used. The records of the PIA, including watershed maps of these villages were referred. The observations were recorded in the form of six case studies. The cases have been presented in descriptive form on the process of institution building over time. The factors causing success and failure were analysed using the institutional development framework (IAD framework) suggested by Ostrom (1999) which can be depicted in Figure 2.

    III Withdrawal Process and Management System in Place

    The process of pasture development starts with the PIA taking permission from the panchayat for undertaking work in the village pasture as the latter is the custodian of the common pastures. In addition to it, village meetings are also held for approval. A users’ committee (UC) is formed which helps the PIA in implementing the activities. After the project is over the PIA hands over the pasture back and withdraws.3 In this section the process of handing over the withdrawal of the PIA and associated events in each one of these villages have been described, along with a brief profile of each village.

    Cluster 1: Sakroda-Sundarcha Macrowatershed

    Village 1: Sundarcha

    In this village an area of 50 ha of pastureland was developed.4 The work started in 1994 and at that time the pasture was under open grazing. The pasture was almost barren except for the presence of some bushes and shrubs. There were around 400 households living in three hamlets – Gachalon ka Guda, Bhilon ki Bhagal and Sundarcha. Brahmin, rajput, meghval, bhil and gujar were the castes and tribes that inhabit the village. Brahmins and bhils comprised around two-thirds of the population. Among the rest of the population, gujars were in a majority. Around 40 per cent of brahmins have government jobs and were engaged in the organised sector. Thus the village was heterogeneous in terms of social composition. There were about 2,000 animals in the village mostly belonging to gujars and bhils, who depended on agriculture and animal husbandry. Their animals (mostly cattle and buffaloes) were of local breeds and they left their animals open for grazing. A few of the villagers especially brahmins had some cattle of improved breeds and they practised stall feeding.

    At the time of study a pasture development committee (PDC) was looking after the management of the pasture. It had employed a ‘chowkidar’ (guard) for watching and warding the pasture. Before the harvesting season, the PDC auctioned the grass to the highest bidder who took care of harvesting activities. It had fixed a norm that the first priority would be given to the villagers of Sundarcha for selling grass. The price of grass for the villagers was fixed lower than the market rate. The auction was held in the presence of panchayat samiti officials. For two years, Rs 22,000 a year5 had accrued to the committee, which was used for expenses on the salary of the chowkidar and maintenance of pastureland premises.

    The main users of the pasture were gujars and bhils who lived in hamlets near the pasture and their animals grazed on this pastureland. As the pasture development work started in 1994, it was protected in consultation with the villagers. The closure of the pasture to grazing did not affect the people nearby signi ficantly, as there was hardly any vegetation available there. Also, there was a good amount of private ‘beed’ (pastureland) available in the village. But over three years the protection of the pasture and allied activities like contour bunding in the area led to an increase in the production of grass in the area. With this, competing claims from various quarters were also received.

    During the project period, the primary responsibility of the pasture’s protection was with the PIA and the UC was not very worried about it. After the completion of the project period, in 1997, the department constituted a 22-member PDC of villagers drawn from all the three hamlets of the village and handed over to it the responsibility of management. According to the villagers, the panchayat was not too keen on protecting the pasture and supported the idea of opening the pasture for free grazing. Hence, the PIA preferred to hand over the responsibility of the management to the PDC.

    Although the formal handover took place, the situation became bipolar. As the PDC discussed the means of benefit distribution, some people favoured open-grazing while others did not. This conflict of opinions represented the convenience of different livelihood patterns of groups of people in the village. Attempts for open-grazing were made mainly by the gujars. Bhils also were in favour of open-grazing but it was primarily the gujars who traditionally depend on animal husbandry. The pro-protection group, which was dominantly brahmin but supported by some others, opposed attempts of opening up the pasture. They were of the view that gujars had already encroached the commonland near their hamlet and hence this piece of land must be protected. Incidentally, these two groups were the main political groups operating in the political space of Sundarcha panchayat. The politics of the village developed such that the pasture became a ground for competing demands. Underlying the politics were the different livelihood patterns of the groups on both sides.

    The group favouring the protection of pasture put its point strongly. In 1997 some of them, backed by the then sarpanch who was a gujar himself, took their cattle to the pasture. This caused serious conflict in the village and led to a showdown between the opposing groups. As the issue could not be resolved at the village level, the pro-protection group took the matter to the police and district administration. Finally it was resolved that the pasture would remain enclosed and would be looked after by the PDC. The PDC was reformed and the number of members was reduced to eight as it was felt that the large 22-member committee was unable to meet regularly. Though the committee represented all the hamlets of the village, due care was taken to leave out those who favoured open-grazing.

    Given that the pasture remained protected, the gujars did not prefer the auction system. The sarpanch said it was not of much use except its environmental value. The gujars preferred the cut and carry method over the auction system as this would ensure a greater availability of grass to them. He mentioned that the cut and carry method would not suit the other group, who favoured the auction system. The PDC considered the auction system simple and least problematic as opposed to the cut and carry method. The secretary of the PDC said that they had tried it once and did not find it practical. In the first year after the PDC took charge, the grass of one patch was auctioned and secured Rs 2,500. On the other hand, the cut and carry method was followed in two other patches which secured Rs 2,200 only. The secretary mentioned that the cut and carry method would require closer and regular monitoring to ensure that no one gets more than what he has paid for. Moreover, the income from the grass would also come piecemeal.

    At the time of this study, in 2001, the pasture was in good condition with a system of management in place. Free grazing was not allowed in the pasture and there was stone fencing around the pasture. The survival of trees in the pasture was also good. The secretary of the PDC and the chowkidar of the pasture handled routine matters related to the pasture. The chairman said that PDC meeting was held only if some major decision was to be taken. He also added that the villagers left the responsi bilities largely to the secretary and chowkidar as long as the pasture was maintained and harvested in a sustainable manner. He, however, presented an account of yearly income and expenditure before the PDC and the general assembly of the village. Thus, the CPR system in Sundarcha evolved gradually and finally assumed shape in response to the problems faced.

    Village 2: Dipti

    This was a small village with around 80 households. There were around 150 cattle and buffaloes and 200 goats in the village. Brahmins were the majority constituting about 60 households and the rest were Bhils. A number of people (about one-third) were in government service, and some were daily labourers as well.

    Under the NWDPRA scheme an area of 40 ha of pastureland was developed in this village. The decision to enclose a portion of the pasture was made by the PIA in consultation with members of the users’ committee. Before the PIA began work on this patch of land the village already had another patch of pasture developed by the forest department that was closer to the village settlement. The closure of this 40 ha however led to increased pressure on the pastureland developed by the forest department. This portion of land was also under open grazing since then and there was little vegetation on it. A stone-fencing around the pasture was erected during the project period and plantation undertaken.

    The villagers had little memory of the project days. In 1995, the PIA handed over the pasture in the village to the panchayat. Within a year it was open for grazing. Neither the villagers nor the panchayat tried to establish any system for the protection of the pasture. No rule existed for the protection and maintenance of the pasture. Dipti was also under Sundarcha panchayat, whose sarpanch supported the idea of open-grazing.

    Unlike Sundarcha and Sakroda, Dipti’s farmers did not have private beeds. In such a scenario, it was all the more expected from the villagers that they would protect the pasture. This could not happen because there was no consensus in the village for this decision. Secondly, a majority of the villagers had the purchasing power to buy fodder (as many of them was in govern ment service). Hence they did not care to protect the pasture. The protection and management of pasture could have helped bhils in the village but they also did not come forward to protect it. The villagers said that the PIA did not initiate the process of maintaining the pasture as it did in Sundarcha. The handover of the pasture at the end of the project was made by the PIA to the panchayat without consulting the villagers. The community also did not show any initiative in Dipti. As the village did not respond actively to watershed works during implementation it received less attention than Sundarcha. One reason for this lack of involvement of the people may be that till 1995, when the pasture was completed in Dipti, there was a single committee for five-six villages of the whole macro-watershed and Dipti had only a couple of members in the users committee.

    At the time of the study, the pasture of the village was not wellmaintained. The stone wall fencing was broken in many places and needed repair, and it was open for grazing. The survival rate of the plants in the pasture is also poor. There was no system for the management of pasture in place.

    Village 3: Sakroda

    There were around 500 households, 2,000 cows and buffaloes and 2,500 goats and sheep in this village. Almost all the animals were of local breeds. Hence the pressure on grazing was high – small animals could not be stall-fed. There were only a few people in Sakroda in government jobs. Many people worked in tertiary sectors like transport.

    In this village two patches of land were developed (total 36 ha, one 17 ha, and the other 19 ha) in two phases. One was in good condition and was protected while the other was opened for free grazing. There was a third patch of pasture under treatment during this study in the same programme and that was also well protected. The decision to enclose the pasture for treatment was made by the PIA and the UC. The closure of the pasture did not seriously affect villagers as the enclosed portion of land constituted only a small portion of available pasture (both panchayat and private) in the village.

    Brahmin, gujar, bhil, rajput, and khatik are the main castes and tribes which inhabit the village. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the main occupation of the villagers. Sakroda is a big multi-caste village divided in terms of having multiplicity of interests and multiple loci of power. No caste is in a position to enjoy unquestioned authority and power to see its decisions through. Rajputs and brahmins are there but they are neither economically well placed nor numerically dominant. Gujars are in good number but are economically and occupationally not well placed. Khatiks are the richest in the village but are socially positioned lower in the caste hierarchy. Every group and every leader wants to keep its cards open and hence nobody takes any stand regarding the pasture.

    The PIA, after the treatment of the pasture wanted to hand it over to panchayat. As the latter had handed it over for a period of five years it declined to take the responsibility of its maintenance before the five years completed. The PIA therefore gave the responsibility of its maintenance to the UC. One of the patches of pasture was well-maintained largely due to the efforts of the PIA which engaged a chowkidar for watching and warding over the pasture. It paid for the salary of the chowkidar from the account of the new patch being developed. Since the handover of the pasture to the UC, it had not accrued any income unlike Sundarcha. There was no rule set up for the protection or for benefit distribution.

    The lack of concern towards the pasture has its root in encroachment also. In the 1960s, there was a lot of revenue wasteland in the village. Over the next decades these lands were allotted to villagers. At the moment, there is no revenue wasteland left in the village. The lack of concern at the village level continued and gradually led to opening the pasture for free grazing. One interesting point observed during the study was that one patch of land where the pasture was developed was earlier encroached by a villager. He vacated the land as the pasture development work took place. And as the PIA withdrew, he again encroached. Probably, weak institutions led individuals to take over the system.

    Interestingly, in the same village people have come together for the cause of drinking water. They have been running a tubewell and water tank for the last five years effectively. A five-member committee looked after the management system. Every household in the village contributed Rs 15 every month. In the backdrop of a socially and politically divided community, community action of the kind mentioned here is not difficult to find if everybody in the village has a stake. This puts a question mark on the proposition of whether the heterogeneity of a village community affects its institutions. Rather it points that pasture was probably not the villagers’ priority. Availability of large tracts of private beeds fulfilled the grass requirement and the villagers had not felt shortage of grass till recently.

    The pasture remained protected for less than a year after its handover. Then it was opened for grazing. In a span of four years it completely degraded and only traces of vegetation could be found. Remnants of soil conservation measures existed, and there were instances of taking away stones from the stonefence.

    Cluster 2: Kamli Macrowatershed

    Village 4: Sangawas

    There were around 200 households in Sangawas. Of them, about 60 per cent households were rawats, others belonged to castes and tribes such as kumhar, balai, baniya, dholi, baba and bhil. Agriculture was the main occupation of the villagers. Afew people had government jobs. Some others worked in the private unorganised sector. Thus we categorised this village as moderately homogeneous in terms of caste composition. In this village, an area of 136 ha of pasture was developed. Part of it was revenue wasteland (‘bilanam’) and part pasture. Some of the villagers had encroached a part of the village pasture for decades. They opposed its development as the treatment of the pasture meant the removal of their encroachments. They also had the support of the then sarpanch who belonged to Sangawas itself. They were also worried about feeding the cattle in the village. This matter was sorted out finally by leaving out a portion of pasture for grazing of the cattle. It was also argued that the land, which was taken up for treatment, was highly degraded and the villagers would not gain anything if they chose not to enclose it for treatment.

    After a few months of completion of the project, in July 1998, the PIA convened a meeting for the pupose of handing over the pasture. No new committee was formed and the same users committee which carried out works in the village continued to function as the custodian of the pasture. The panchayat had also shown interest to take over the pasture. In fact, the sarpanch had written to the PIA in order to take over the treated pasture. But the UC feared that the panchayat would allow free grazing in the pasture. The PIA, which had received active support from UC earlier, also felt that the UC would be able to manage the pasture properly and agreed with the arrangement.

    Under the existing arrangement, the UC looked after the dayto-day management of the pasture and the system functioned well. But this antagonised the sarpanch. In 1999-2000, the panchayat collected fees from some of the villagers and allowed the cutting of the grass. This decision was unilaterally made without consultation with the UC. The latter expressed its reservations about the decision and the PIA also backed it. The panchayat finally returned the fees to those from whom it was collected. However, the grass was distributed among the villagers and the people who needed grass were not deprived of it.

    During the implementation, the users committee faced problems from the neighbouring villagers (Naberi) also who continued to leave their animals into the pasture. At this point, the committee showed extraordinary resolve by instituting a system which would protect the pasture. Many of the UC members along with some other villagers under the leadership of the committee chairman kept watch over the pasture even during the night. They reported the matter to the police also. The involvement of the com mittee, the prevalence of active leadership and a supportive PIA in the programme during the project implementation made the task easier for the committee members in the post-project phase. Once the pasture developed properly, people who initially resis ted the work also benefited from it. The only complaint this group had was that they were not consulted while taking decisions.

    After two years of implementation, the villagers were allowed to cut grasses from the pasture. The income accrued from it was small and was utilised for the payment of the chowkidar. Those people who made signal contributions in protecting it still show the same level of motivation. Because of this success, the Kamli watershed, of which Sangawas is a part, received the National Productivity Award, and visitors from outside regularly come here on exposure visits. These visits also made people realise the importance of their efforts. The involvement of some of local workers of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan (MKSS)6 who were part of the committee also provided the much-needed enthusiasm and motivation to remove encroachments, and to ensure the protection of the pasture. While felling of trees was not allowed, considering the drought situation, grazing was allowed at a token fee of Rs 11 per head for animals, though only cattle/ buffalo. As the trees were grown, they were not likely to be harmed by grazing.

    The pasture was in a good condition. A controlled grazing system was followed and the stone fencing was intact. The case of Sangawas is an example of effective leadership under the overall guidance of the dynamic chairman of the users’ committee. The village had a good management system in terms of keeping a watch on the pasture while accommodating the needs of villagers in the post-project phase.

    Village 5: Rashmi

    There were around 150-175 households in Rashmi, 90 per cent rawat and the other 10 per cent includes dholi, balai, bhil, etc. Only about four to five persons of the village have regular government/private jobs. Thus this village could be termed a homogeneous village in terms of caste composition. An area of 175 ha of pastureland was developed in this village. Agriculture and animal husbandry were the main occupations with the animal population as high as 3,000 of which 500 were cattle.

    The pasture development work started in 1994 in this village. This pastureland consisted of two patches. The two patches were taken up one-by-one by the PIA for treatment. But the closure still affected the cattle in the village adversely. The villagers handled the situation by grazing their animals in nearby villages, such as Sangawas and Miyala. No stone fencing was constructed in the pasture lying adjacent to the village Thikarwas. The other patch lay towards the village Paton ki Aanti. There was already a stone fencing (developed by the panchayat) around the pasture when the project had begun. In July 1998, the PIA convened a meeting in the village and conveyed to the villagers their decision to withdraw from the village. The UC which had 14 members was given the charge of the protection and maintenance of the pasture. The committee agreed to protect the area and banned felling and grazing.

    After the formal withdrawal by the PIA, the pasture remained protected for three to four months. Then the chairman of the UC received complaints of animals grazing in the pasture. As he could not stop the grazers, he communicated the matter to the PIA. The PIA officials visited the village and discussed with the people and a meeting of the UC was convened for this purpose but nothing concrete materialised. Conditions of drought and the shortage of fodder were the pleas on which grazing was allowed. The approach of the UC was also half-hearted as a couple of members of the committee itself had infringed the ban on grazing. It was also learnt that inhabitants of a neighbouring village (particularly Thikarwas) brought their cattle for grazing in the village pasture. Rather than stopping the villagers of Thikarwas, Rashmi villagers thought to benefit as well and once the pastures were open for grazing, this continued unabated. The ban on felling was also not observed. The panchayat (same as that of Sangawas) remained indifferent to the entire process.

    The pasture was open for grazing and highly degraded. Traces of boundary plantation and sparsely distributed trees were found as remnants of the plantation. And there was no serious effort made for a way out – like closing one of the two patches or even a ban on felling. It could be concluded that the village did not develop any management system.

    Village 6: Kundeli

    In Kundeli, there were around 200 households. Rawats and kalals together constituted around 70 per cent of the village. Other castes living in the village were salvi and prajapat. Not more than 10 persons were in government jobs and about 30 people worked in regular private jobs. Thus this village can be called a moderately heterogeneous village in terms of caste composition. The animal population was about 1,500 of which cattle/ buffalo population was 200 and the rest were goats.

    The project activities started in 1993-94 and were completed in 1996-97. An area of 150 ha pasture was developed in this village. It was almost barren and there were sparsely distributed bushes when the work started. The closure did not affect villagers significantly as there was no vegetation on this piece of land. In July 1998 a village meeting was organised by the PIA and the pasture was handed over for maintenance to the UC. No new committee was formed. It was the same old 11-member users committee that took the responsibility of managing the pasture. The panchayat (same as Sangawas) was not interested in taking over the pasture.

    The interventions in Kundeli were only a mediocre success unlike Sangawas. In this village the plantation was not successful, and the PIA did not expect much from the area. The villagers also did not have any significant interest in maintaining the pasture until an incident of tree felling by some people from a neighbouring village occurred. A group of people from the neighbouring village (Baraton ka Badiya) felled trees from the pasture of Kundeli. This shook the villagers; they united and reported the matter to the police. It led to the arrest of 20 persons from Baraton ka Badiya. After this, the villagers resolved to establish a local system for protection to avoid any incidence of tree cutting. Every day representatives of four households of the village would keep a watch on the pasture on a rotation basis. The turn of a household came approximately every one and a half months. In case of the absence of a representative of any household for watch and ward, a fine of Rs 80 per day was imposed. The village followed its traditional practice of holding village meetings on ‘poonam’ (full moon night) where they discussed common issues affecting the interests of villagers. People adhered to decisions taken in the meeting and issues related to pasture protection were settled in these meetings.

    After two years of work the PIA allowed the cutting of grasses by villagers. No fee was charged. Felling trees and free grazing prevailed before the pasture development work took place in the village. During the project period, a ban on felling and grazing was observed. In the year of this study, grazing was allowed after the initial rounds of grass cutting took place. Villagers allowed animals from neighbouring villages also as the plants had grown well and animals would not harm the trees. The seriousness of this ban is reflected by the fact that nobody from the village could be seen in and around the pasture holding an axe. Anybody found to have indulged in any unauthorised felling was penalised.

    Interestingly, many officials from the PIA do not consider this village a successful experience. One probable reason is the low survival of the plantation. Most of the seedlings could not survive. Villagers mentioned that most of the plants did not survive due to excessive cold in the year of plantation. When asked about the success of plantation in Sangawas, the villagers said, it had better site quality and better seedlings were planted. Although the plantation did not have a high survival rate, root stocks developed well as a result of the protection.

    The case of Kundeli is a unique example of the traditional village institution taking the responsibility of managing the CPR. The practice of holding monthly village meetings also gave an opportunity to common villagers to keep in touch with issues related to the pasture. It was an excellent example of a self-evolved system in place in response to a development intervention.

    IV Analysis and Discussion

    The preceding section describes the process of handing over of pasture and how the management system evolved during the project period and after the completion of the projects. A range of factors from social, economic and political compositions of communities to the kinds of efforts made by the PIA or users committees resulted in different responses in the studied villages. From the above the following patterns can be identified

    Physical and Material Conditions

    From the discussion above it seems three important physical or material factors might have affected the results of pastureland development – per capita availability of pastureland, the livestock composition and the fodder economy vis-à-vis conservation efforts. In terms of physical conditions, the one common thing found across these villages is that they were all highly degraded when the conservation work started.

    Per Capita Availability of Pastureland

    In Sundarcha, Dipti and Sakroda, the area of land covered under pasture development is very low in comparison to the other three villages. The table gives a comparison of these villages. Sundarcha and Sakroda have small patches of pastureland taken for treatment. Dipti also has a small area, but there the number of animals is very low. Sangawas, Rashmi, Kundeli and Dipti have higher per user (animal and household) commonland, on the other hand it is low in the case of Sundarcha and in the case of Sakroda it is abysmally low. We did not find any correlation between the size of the pastureland and success/failure. In Dipti and Rashmi the pasture failed despite larger per capita availability but it worked in Sundarcha despite smaller per capita availability. In Sundarcha outputs of the pasture could not meet all requirements of fodder in the village, but could only plug in the critical gap in fodder shortage. In Sakroda, the size of the pastureland developed was too small and as there was a lot of private pastureland (beed) available, pasture development was probably not the priority. In Rashmi and Dipti, pasture could have met a significant portion of the fodder requirement of the village but it still did not work. Hence, except in Sakroda, the size of the pasture has not contributed to the success/failure of the pasture management.

    Livestock Composition

    It is generally believed that small animals are rarely stall-fed and these villages were no different. With this logic, a greater number of small animals (goat and sheep) could have adverse effect on conservation efforts but in these villages no such thing was observed. Sundarcha and Dipti have a greater number of bigger animals (cattle and buffalo). Interestingly, the conservation efforts failed in Dipti but worked in Sundarcha. The rest of the four villages have mostly smaller animals. Out of these four in two villages conservation efforts failed while in the other two they were successful. This implies that as a single factor many small animals might be inversely related with conservation efforts but when it works in combination with other factors its effects may be neutralised by them.

    Fodder Economy and Conservation Efforts

    Requirements of fodder in these villages are met either by commonland, private beed, crop residues, or purchases of fodder from the market or from outlets set up by government for sale at subsidised prices. This proportion of fodder from different sources is not fixed as it changes with the variation in rainfall, groundwater level and crop outputs. Although the situation varies from village to village and year to year, the contribution of commonlands is substantial in normal years except in Sakroda where private beeds are ample and Sundarcha where the conserved pastureland is too small to meet the fodder needs of the villagers. Except for Dipti, no other village has forestland nearby but there also entry to forestland was restricted. In Rashmi and Dipti also, where conservation efforts failed, the contribution of commonlands was substantial for any normal year, the study however did not make any quantitative estimates.

    In the months following the beginning of monsoon rains called ‘chaumasa’ there is adequate outgrowth of green grass and other bushes and shrubs for animals to graze in the area, but it lasts only till the end of chaumasa, i e, the end of October-November Leaves and pods of khejri and desi babool, crop residues of maize, black gram, groundnut, guar (cluster bean), jowar, wheat, chana


    Sundarcha Dipti Sakroda Sangawas Rashmi Kundeli

    Area developed (ha) 50 40 36 136 175 150 No of households 400 80 500 200 175 200 Animal population 2000 200 4000 1000 3000 1500

    and barley are also used to meet the fodder requirement. Only a few farmers cultivate green fodder like ‘rachka’ in years of normal rainfall. However, when field work for this study was done, these villages were in severe drought with the third year in succession. Due to this, a large area was kept fallow and this left the farmers with insufficient crop residues. The production of green fodder (rachka) was negligible as one required water to irrigate it. In the drought years there was severe scarcity of fodder and water and people had to depend on purchases from the market and government supplies for approximately three to six months in a year for feeding animals. This scarcity of fodder also had its effect on livestock composition as people tried to sell off their dry animals, retaining the milching ones.

    The need to arrange for fodder builds definite pressure on pasturelands to be opened up. However, only villages opted for controlled use rather than unrestricted and unregulated use at pasture. Drought is a recurrent phenomenon in this region. It is a choice before the villages whether to keep using it sustainably over the long run or exploit it at one go, and this choice is made out of a combination of physical, social and economic factors.

    Attributes of the Community

    Sundarcha, Sakroda and Sangawas were heterogeneous in terms of caste composition. Sakroda can be termed as the most heterogeneous one. Kundeli, Rashmi and Dipti were more or less homogeneous villages, Rashmi being the most homogeneous. In terms of occupation, the most heterogeneous would be Sundarcha as there were a good number of people working in the private sector. Other villages were primarily dependent on agriculture and animal husbandry. Thus homogeneity in terms of caste did not influence the outcome of the intervention.


    In the three villages where the management system was working, different rules had been established. In Sangawas, the auction system and preference to villagers in the sale of grass was followed, while in Kundeli, the grass collected was distributed for free. In Kundeli, controlled grazing was allowed after the first round of grass cutting, although felling of trees was completely banned. In Sangawas, meetings were held regularly while in Sundarcha only when major decisions were to be taken. In Kundeli, it was held every month full moon night.

    Action Situations and Actors

    Among the six villages, four had a bipolar conflict of interests. One group was in favour of protection and the other was against it. Their claims were different and the pattern of support was also different. In Sangawas and Sundarcha where the system was established successfully, there was intra-village conflict of interest and in Kundeli the conflict was inter-village. In Sundarcha it was brahmins vs gujars, in Sangawas it was the panchayat vs users committee and in Kundeli it was the village vs the neighbouring villages. In Rashmi an intra-village conflict ensued for some time but it could not allow any system to be established. In the other two villages there was hardly any conflict and no system could be established. This brings out the positive features of conflict which helped in the emergence of a strong group favouring protection of pasture.

    Pattern of Interaction and Outcome

    The outcomes could be broadly categorised into two – first, where the system was working (Sundarcha, Sangawas and Kundeli) and second, where it was not (Dipti, Rashmi and Sakroda). These outcomes have been a result of different types of interactions.

    Any of the above four features (physical and material conditions, attributes of community, rules in use and action arena) exclusively do not seem to cause the success/failure of an institutional arrangement. The fodder economy in the villages had a severe deficit and hence the need arose to increase fodder production. This need motivated different groups in the villages variously. In Sundarcha the conflicting interests led to the evolution of an institutional arrangement that helped in saving the conservation efforts. The institution established itself by drawing strength from the conflict situation. In Sangawas also the same pattern of interaction was observed. In Kundeli, the motivation for maintaining the conservation effort was drawn from external sources, where the community united because of external influx and established an institution for protecting the pasture. The same situation was observed in Rashmi also, but there the local dynamics brought in a consensus for joining in the league of open grazing rather than protecting the pasture. While in one case inter-village conflict worked as a motivator for conservation, in the other it worked the other way round. Probably the alleged default of one committee member in Rashmi was crucial for this contrasting result.

    The process of interaction in Sundarcha and Sangawas brings another insight. In these two villages, there was no one step inputoutput relationship between interventions and outcomes. Rather the outcome generated after several loops of interactions. For instance in Sundarcha, first, the UC was replaced by the PDC representing all the sections of village. When conflict arose, a smaller committee was formed eliminating the people who supported open grazing. Thus the management systems in these villages evolved gradually. In this process, the village institution was strengthened suo motu. But in Dipti, Rashmi and Sakroda this process did not take place. The withdrawal of the PIA was relatively abrupt in these villages and the UCs were not capable enough to look after the system.

    In Dipti the people showed little involvement in the programme and decisions were taken without consulting the villagers. Similarly in Sakroda individual interests were kept higher than collective interest. The benefit from pasture was also too small. Thus the mechanism in these two villages remained weak.

    These case studies bring out some interesting findings. The following points capture some additional factors overarching all the above-mentioned factors: Economic logic: Olson’s criteria that collective effort succeeds when the total gain exceeds the total cost by as much as or more than the gain to the group exceeds the gain to the individual [Olson 1971, pp 24-25] explains some of the outcomes. The case of Sakroda is that of cost exceeding benefits. One of the factors for people in Rashmi not coming forward for protection was that they feared that the benefits were being taken away by someone else. The smaller groups in Sangawas and Sundarcha also tried to maximise their respective benefits which led to conflicts in these villages. Emergence of competing groups: There are instances when going by simple economic logic would not provide answers of the success or failure of management systems. In Dipti and Rashmi the need for pasture development existed, but a system could not be established. On the other hand, in Sundarcha there was no significant economic logic for protection but it became a symbol of issues, aspects or politics not closely connected with the common land itself. The emergence of competing (and persistent) groups led to the evolution of a system for protecting the pasture. Informal people’s institutions: The informal village level institutions such as UC and PDC played a decisive role in the protection of the pastures. These institutions were neither registered nor constitutional bodies. It was also observed that the panchayat took interest where the sarpanch had some interest in the pasture. A strong village institution superseded the influence of social composition which is generally considered more important in collective decision-making. Rashmi and Dipti were relatively homogeneous in terms of caste composition but they could not build a consensus for the protection of the pasture. Rather, occupational, economic and political groups influenced people in coming to a decision. Passing the critical stage: In all the cases where the management system was running successfully, it was observed that the institution had a stronghold after it passed a critical stage. In Sangawas, the reversal of the panchayat’s order for cutting grass was a critical point. In Sundarcha, the open grazing effort was dealt successfully albeit with a great difficulty. The successful lobby for protecting the pasture shifted the control to the pro-protection group. In Kundeli, illegal felling by the neighbouring village awakened the village and that led to a collective decision. On the other hand, in Rashmi the situation was not dealt with persistence. When the neighbouring villagers cut the trees, the villagers joined them. Similarly, when there was shortage of pasture, open grazing was allowed, without any innovation to cope (as occurred in Sangawas to cope up with the drought situation allowing a controlled grazing).

    The interest of the facilitating agency also played a key role. As the villages Sangawas and Sundarcha responded positively to the intervention made by the PIA, they received more attention than the other villages. Understanding the local situation, the PIA identified people with a strong orientation for conservation efforts. Dipti, Sakroda and Rashmi never became the priority of the PIA as these villages did not respond favourably to the project interventions. Kundeli was one exception where the village itself evolved an institutional arrangement.

    To the policymakers, the study provides some useful insights. These villages displayed a unique set of local dynamics and the PIA responded differently as no clear-cut guidelines were available at the time. Later in 1999 a set of guidelines was issued that recommended that the panchayat should be given the first preference in handing over control and only if the latter is not interested other arrangements could be made [GOR 1999]. In the case of these six villages such generic procedures could not have done well. The government policy for the management of these CPRs must accommodate the possibility of acting in accordance with the local dynamics. Any rigid guideline for bypassing village institutions is likely to cause a failure in establishing management systems.

    V Concluding Remarks

    CPR is an economic resource subject to individual use but not individual possession. The main problem in the management of CPRs is how to coordinate individual users to attain sustainable use of resources. The cases discussed in this paper clearly indicate the role played by village institutions in sustaining the CPRs. The PIA or facilitating agency needs to spend sufficient time to understand the local scenario, both social and geophysical, and design institutions fitting into local conditions. An element of manoeuvrability would be required on the part of managers in this regard as no model is final for collective action. The group dynamics may change from time to time and the facilitator would have to make changes accordingly in the institutional arrangements confirming the following statement by Ostrom:

    Whether or not any equilibria are possible and whether or not an equilibrium would be an improvement for the individuals involved (or for others who are in turn affected by these individuals) will depend on the particular structures of the institutions. In the most general sense, all institutional arrangements can be thought of as games in extensive form. As such, the particular options available, the sequencing of those options, the information provided, and the relative rewards and punishments assigned to different sequences of moves can all change the pattern of outcomes achieved [Ostrom 1990: 22-23].

    The guidelines issued by the government of India for watershed programmes (in 1995 and 2001) emphasised implementation by either registered village bodies or panchayats. The Hariyali guidelines 2003 however emphasise implementation only through the panchayati raj instutions. In this study it was found that panchayats did not work as neutral and impartial bodies and favoured particular interest groups. In view of this it could be recommended that panchayats would need a lot of capacity building on technical and institutional issues to handle commons development. Whosoever is the implementing agency undertaking commonland development, it should be prepared to see that underneath the formal structures there are informal processes, groups and factions and manoeuvre them to the advantage of the management system there.

    In conclusion it can be said that the CPR management systems can be institutionalised through in-depth understanding of the local needs and dynamics associated with the CPR. The first step towards it is the identification of various groups favouring or opposing it. In the second stage, continuous dialogue with the community and transferring the management responsibility to them with the PIA being present in the village could be most useful. The most crucial judgment of the time of complete withdrawal of the PIA from the area could be made after the local institution tackles critical problems successfully.




    [This paper is based on the cases developed by the authors as part of a study Post-project Management in Completed Watersheds for ARAVALI, Jaipur. A version of this paper has earlier been prepared in the form of a study report. The authors acknowledge their thanks to ARAVALI, Jaipur, which has permitted the authors to publish this paper.The authors acknowledge their gratitude to G D Vyas, Sachin Sachdeva and Jai Pal Singh from ARAVALI, Prema Gera and Srinivasan Iyer of Aga Khan Foundation; Parag Chaudhuri, M L Dashora of department of WD & SC; Shashi Bhushan Singh, PhD scholar of Delhi University and Rao Ratan Singh who contributed to the study in a variety of ways. Thanks also to Vishwa Ballabh, IRMA, for his suggestions on the framework of analysis and the anonymous referees for their comments.]

    1 The desert development programme (DDP), drought prone area programme (DPAP), integrated wasteland development project (IWDP) and national watershed development project for rainfed areas (NWDPRA). The importance of pasture development can be gauged from the fact that in the year 2003, a special programme Maru Gochar Yojana [PIB 2003] was launched for the desert districts of Rajasthan specifically for the development of pastureland at an estimate of Rs 500 million.

    2 The first phase of NWDPRA was implemented during 1990-91 to 1996-97.

    3 As the panchayat grants permission for the pasture development work, it would have been a logical step to hand over the pasture to it. But there was no clear instruction from the PIA directorate and in some cases the field staff apprehended that the panchayat would not take care of it. They therefore responded differently depending upon their perception, the mood in the village and the usual practice being followed by the department. This resulted in different trajectories of withdrawal and the establishment of different systems of management in different villages.

    4 Approximately Rs 3,500 per ha was spent in conserving these pastures as an initial investment during the project period. This amount excludes the post-project watch and ward and maintenance works.

    5 This revenue is quite laudable as the last two years have been drought years in the area.

    6 MKSS is a people’s movement based in the area that organises the community for their right to information.


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