Sustainable Livelihoods and Biodiversity in Developing Countries
REPORT FROM 1 STAKEHOLDER
FIELDTRIPS: INDIA, 7 – 15TH
Pictures: A. Allan, M. Claasen, A. Guignier, Shruti Vispute, Y. Yasuda.
Programme (FP7/2007- For more information visit our website: http://www.livediverse.eu
2013) under grant
agreement No. 211392
Table of contents
1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................... 3
2. Map of Case Study/ Field Trip sites ....................................................................................................... 4
3. Key engagements during the field trip.................................................................................................... 5
3.1 Academic engagements: ....................................................................................................................... 5
3.1.1 International Workshop on Ecosystem Management: Experience sharing by the case
study countries of the LiveDiverse project, University of Pune, 8 December ..................................... 5
3.1.2 International Workshop, Vilasrao Kore Sabhagrah Engineering College, Waranagar, 11
3.1.3 Prof. Dr. N. D. Patil College, Malkapur, Kolhapur District
–], 13 December .........................................................................................................................................10
3.2 Stakeholder engagements: ..................................................................................................................10
3.2.1 Visit to Mr. M. K. Rao, Chief Conservator of Forests, 10 December ................................10
3.2.2 Visit to Khundlapur Village on boundary of Chandoli National Park – 12 December ...12
3.2.3 Visit to bauxite mine, Chandoli, 13 December .......................................................................14
3.2.4 Visit to Udgiri Sacred Grove and temples, 13 December .....................................................16
3.2.5 Visit to Shahuwadi Village Jyotiba temple ceremony ............................................................16
3.3 Other basin experiences: ....................................................................................................................17
3.3.1 Visit to confluence of Warana and Krishna rivers, Haripur, 10 December .......................17
3.3.2 Jaggery factory, near Kolhapur, 11 December........................................................................18
3.3.3 Chandoli National Park, 12 December ....................................................................................19
1. Conclusions of the field trip ..................................................................................................................21
The India field trip had several objectives: to raise awareness on the Livediverse project; to identify
and understand the key issues related to biodiversity and livelihoods from different perspectives
(national, provincial, local; governmental/ non-governmental); and to identify existing initiatives and
projects within the case study areas that complement the aims and objectives of LiveDiverse project.
The field trip was organized by the Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management
(SOPPECOM), LiveDiverse case-study partner and leader of WP 7. The participants of the field trip
included SOPPECOM staff, K. J. Joy, Suhas Paranjape, Suchita Jain, Raju Adagale, Ravi Pomane,
Vinit Raskar, Shruti Vispute and Pratima Medhekar. Mr. Hoang Xuan Phuong attended from
NIAPP in Vietnam, with Prof. Geoffrey Gooch and Yumiko Yasuda from Linköping University,
Sweden (with Prof Gooch’s son Jesper), and Dr Karen Nortje and Dr. Marius Claasen attending
from CSIR in South Africa. The University of Dundee was represented by Ms Armelle Guignier and
Mr Andrew Allan. Dr. Alexander Lopez had been due to arrive from Costa Rica, but unfortunately
inclement weather in the USA prevented him from boarding his connecting flight and he was forced
to turn around and go home.
The trip was based in two urban centres: Pune and Kolhapur, with the majority of the trip being
spent in and around the latter. The first day of the fieldtrip was devoted to the exploration of Pune.
The team visited Gandhi National Memorial, earlier called Aga Khan Palace, where Gandhi was
interned for two years by the British in 1942; Shaniwar Wada, ruins of a former palace and the Raja
Dinkar Kelkar Museum which gathers the most important personal collection of Indian daily life
objects. On the same day Prof. Geoffrey Gooch inaugurated the refresher course for college
teachers, organised by the Department of Environmental Studies, University of Pune.
The first major academic engagement was organized at the University of Pune on the second day of
the fieldtrip. The first part aimed to present the national legal and policy framework in the three
non-Indian case-study areas of the LiveDiverse project and the second part of the workshop
intended to share policies and experiences on ecosystem management in India (protected areas,
displacement, water, climate change, and environmental education). The audience of the workshop
included not only academics and students but also NGO representatives.
The LiveDiverse team left Pune to reach Kolhapur and the case study area. On the way to
Kolhapur, the team could see the eastern boundaries of the Chandoli National park which is
covered by wind farms. The team also could witness many socio-cultural events like wrestling at
Kokrud village, which is an annual event and it is part of the annual “jatra” (or festival). This is an
all-male affair as women do not participate in the wrestling competition, nor do they go to witness it.
They also could see the market where thousands of bullocks are brought for sale. The team also
visited the Shirala temple where every year on Nagapanchami day (day celebrating/venerating the
snake, generally in the month of August) snakes are worshipped. Thousands of people come there.
It is an important socio-cultural-religious event in the region. Some of the rationalist groups and
animal lovers oppose this because on that day lots of snakes are caught and publicly displayed for
money and cruelty to snakes and superstition have become the issues now.
Kolhapur sits slightly outside of the case study area around the Chandoli National Park, but is the
local political centre and provided the best location for access to key local places of interest to the
project. It is around 6 hours drive south of Pune.
The Kolhapur part of the field trip began on the 10th of December with a visit to the Conservator of
Forests (Wildlife), Mr. M. K. Rao. He is in overall charge of Chandoli National park, Dajipur and
Koyana wild life sanctuaries – all of them situated in the northern part of the Western Ghat. He
granted us permission to go a certain way into the National Park during the latter stages of the field
trip. Following the meeting with Mr. Rao, the group went by bus to the confluence of the Warana
river with the Krishna River at Haripur. On the way to Haripur the group was able to see the
prevalence of sugar cane as an agricultural crop, and saw for the first time the living conditions of
the itinerant cane cutters, seeing a number of the workers’ cane husk tent communities on the
On the 11th of December, the group attended the International Workshop on “Issues related to
Biodiversity, Socio-cultural Traditions and Livelihoods in Warna River Basin and other Case Study Basins of
LiveDiverse Project” at the Vilasrao Kore Sabhagrah Engineering College at Waranagar. This workshop
allowed LiveDiverse case study partners to present details of their own national case study areas to a
group of students, academics and relevant local stakeholders, followed by interesting presentations
from local experts on biodiversity, socio-cultural traditions and livelihoods in the Warna region more
The following day, the group drove up to the Chandoli National Park itself. The morning was spent
driving up from Kolhapur to the park boundaries; visit to plateau (a place called Zolangi); visit to
Khundlapur village on national park boundary (basically a village of Dhangars or shepherds, one of
the ethnic groups in the case basin)
On the 13th and 14th the team visited many of the key sites in the case study area. As part of a return
visit to the national park, the group visited a local college on its boundaries, afterwards travelling up
to a bauxite mine directly adjacent to the national park itself. They then moved downhill to the
Udgiri sacred grove and were taken into a number of temples for local lesser deities. In the evening
of the 13th they were honoured to be granted access to the Sonwade village Jyotiba weekly temple
celebration. The next day, prior to the drive north to Pune, there was a visit to the major local sites
of Jyotibacha Dongar temple outside Kolhapur, and to the Panhala hill fort across the hills from the
On 15th the LiveDiverse team had a small review of the whole visit and the visit ended with lunch in
2. Map of Case Study/ Field Trip sites
[SOPPECOM – please insert route details and location of field trip sites].
3. Key engagements during the field trip1
SOPPECOM organised a very intensive round of visits for the LiveDiverse team in order to expose
them to as much of the Warana basin as possible in the short space of time available. The following
descriptions of the various visits attempts to describe what the team saw and to outline the issues
raised that were most relevant to the LiveDiverse project.
3.1 Academic engagements:
3.1.1 International Workshop on Ecosystem Management: Experience sharing by the case
study countries of the LiveDiverse project, University of Pune, 8 December
The LiveDiverse team attended the International Workshop on “Ecosystem Management: Experience
sharing by the case study countries of the LiveDiverse project” at the Department of Environmental Science of
the University of Pune. The workshop was organised jointly by SOPPECOM and the Department
of Environmental Science of the University of Pune.
The workshop was introduced by Dr. Praveen Saptarshi of the Department of environmental
Sciences. K.J.Joy from SOPPECOM presented the background of the workshop and the agenda.
Dr.A.D. Adsool, Vice Chancellor of the University of Pune gave the inaugural address. The
inaugural session ended with a brief overview of the LiveDiverse project by Prof.Gooch.
The workshop was divided into two technical sessions. The morning session was devoted to an
overview of the policies and experiences on ecosystem management in the other case study
countries. The session started with a presentation of the LiveDiverse project by its coordinator,
Prof.Gooch. Dr. Marius Classeen from CSIR provided major insights on the South African Policy
related to Biodiversity and Livelihoods, focusing especially on the law on biodiversity and the water
law. Then Dr. Hoang Xuan Phuong on behalf of NIAPP, presented the scientific context of
biodiversity in Vietnam and its legal and policy framework.The afternoon session was completely
devoted to India and gave an overview of the policies and experiences on ecosystem management in
the country. The presentations were made by NGOs, local experts and professor of the university.
Kalpavriksh - Nature, Equity, and Communities: The politics of conservation in India
The first presentation was presented by Prof. Vijay Paranjapye of Gomukh as the person from
Kalpavriksh, who had agreed to make the presentation had to go for an urgent meeting, no one
from this NGO could attend the workshop. This presentation started with an overview of the
biodiversity loss in India and the responses implemented to cope with this degradation. The
presentation focused first on the conservation within protected areas, highlighting the fact that many
local communities are either living inside or are dependent on them for their livelihoods. According
to Kalpavriksh, the Indian conservation policy is based on three assumptions [that in essence
1 Discussions and meetings notes are added in Annex I
denigrate local communities (human uses are detrimental to conservation of protected areas, local
communities necessarily damage natural ecosystems, traditional knowledge and practices of local
communities are irrelevant to conservation). Therefore, conservation laws, programs and Supreme
Court orders result not only in negative impacts on the livelihoods of local communities but also in
higher environmental degradation.
Kalpavriksh then underlined the benefits and potential for both biodiversity and people of the
Community Conserved Areas. Mainly located outside the protected areas systems, CCAs are proving
to be effective in terms of integrating conservation and livelihoods concerns.
Finally, the presentation ended by highlighting the potential of new legislation developments, with
the presenter wondering if it was the correct path towards democratizing conservation. Examples of
participatory approaches in protected areas in India were also mentioned.
Mr.K.J. Joy, SOPPECOM - Critique of the Water Policy and Water Sector Reforms
Mr K.J.Joy started his presentation by outlining the water governance context in India and its
challenges (the need for a comprehensive national water act, and for a review of the allocation of
competencies in water among the national level and the States). Joy highlighted the new policy
development in the water sector in Maharashtra and their directions with a special focus on private
participation, rights and entitlements.
As a conclusion, the major components of an alternative agenda were put forward: the need to treat
water as an ecosystem, a common pool resource; water as a livelihood resource; improving the
democratic institutional framework.
Mr Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra- Policy and experiences related to
displacement and rehabilitation in India
Around 66 million people have been displaced in India since Independence, but there is no official
figure or record. Mr Shripad Dharmadhikary showed that until 2003, India did not have any policy
for resettlement and rehabilitation. Thus approaches implemented were very different from one
State to another (Maharashtra has a law) and the main national instrument was the Land Acquisition
Land dating back to 1894. No legally binding right to resettlement has been acknowledged - only a
right to compensation is in place but faces the lack of land rights title of many people. Displacement
is not a criterion in decision making concerning projects. No participation of potentially affected
communities in the decision making process is required. But strong resistance movements emerged
against many projects. Despite a new policy in 2003, a resettlement bill proposed in 2007 and
amendments to the Land Acquisition Law, progress is very slow.
Dr. Praveen Saptarshi- Climate change: Indian agenda
Dr. Praveen Saptarshi presented the challenges faced by India with respect to climate change.
Ms. Sanskriti Menon, Centre for Environment Education (CEE) - Environmental Education
in India, some examples and challenges
Ms. Sanskriti Menon made a very comprehensive presentation about environmental education in
India. She defined environmental education and its objectives and put it in the broader context of
the national policy on education. Environmental education is included in the formal education
system but the latter faces challenges (e.g.: lack of recognition of traditional knowledge, preparation
of teachers, material locally-specified…and so on). She presented the work of CEE in Andhra
Pradesh and other locations, underlining the link between education and real life. Schools also
interact with local NGOs performing practical demonstrations about environmental issues. She also
mentioned education towards the general public. The presentation ended with reference to the
website www.greenteacher.org which is exclusively devoted to environmental education in India.
3.1.2 International Workshop, Vilasrao Kore Sabhagrah Engineering College, Waranagar, 11
The LiveDiverse team attended the International Workshop on “Issues related to Biodiversity, Socio-
cultural Traditions and Livelihoods in Warna River Basin and other Case Study Basins of LiveDiverse Project” at
the Vilasrao Kore Sabhagrah Engineering College at Waranagar. The workshop was opened by Dr.
S.S. Patil, the Principal of the College, with introductory messages being made by Mr. Joy of
SOPPECOM and Dr. P.D. Raut, the Head of Environmental Sciences at Shivaji University in
Kolhapur prior to the inaugural address from Mr. Vinay Kore.
In the initial technical session,
presentations were made by the
coordinator and by case study area
partners from South Africa and Vietnam,
with another being made on the Costa
Rican team’s behalf by Geoffrey Gooch.
The second session addressed issues
related to biodiversity, socio-cultural
traditions and livelihoods in the Warana
Local experts made presentations, and the
following sets out the topics and main
Dr. Jay Samant – Environmental Issues in the Warana Basin. Dr Samant
Dr. M. V. Cholekar-Bachulkar – Plant diversity in Warana Basin / Western Ghats
Dr. S.Y. Jadhav – Medicinal Plants of Warana Basin
Dr. Bharat Patankar – Socio-economic issues of the Warana Basin
Dr. V.B. Jugale - Impact of Sugar cane in Warana Basin
Dr. Rajendra Kumbhar – Cultural diversity in Warana Basin
Dr. Balasaheb Ajagekar – Dange Tribes in Warana Region
In his inaugural speech Mr. Kore mentioned that he had got an opportunity to compare the
development of Warna basin with other parts of the world. He recounted how over the years
the efforts of the people and the leadership of his grandfather had led to the area
(Warananagar and the adjoining areas) becoming one of the highest per capita income parts of
the rural areas of the country. He assured the Warna valley residents that he would take the
study with full seriousness and would be willing to share his thoughts from time to time. The
LiveDiverse project had taken up a very challenging task. He acknowledged that there are
certain positive and negative impacts of development in the Warna region. He said that there
should be full and sustainable use of the natural resources in the region and added that Warna
basin would also try to generate renewable energy from waste for its sustainable growth and
he believed that it could become practically self reliant in energy. Warna basin also has cultural
diversity and that heritage should be conserved in the future also. He believed that the
LiveDiverse study project would help show the right direction to the people of Warna region.
Prof. Geofrey Gooch in the inaugural session said that the major challenge before the
LiveDiverse project is how to improve livelihoods and at the same time protect biodiversity of
the case study areas. He was quite convinced that exchange of knowledge and ideas among all
four case study areas, i.e., India, South Africa, Vietnam and Costa Rica would help to protect
biodiversity and livelihoods and India has great knowledge and experiences which will
contribute to other case study areas too.
Chairing the session, Dr. A. A. Dange, Vice Chancellor of Shivaji University, Kolhapur put the
agricultural, social and educational development of Warna, Krishna and Panchganga basins in
its environmental context before the audience. He also noted that while gaining income from it
society is facing lots of problem due to the increasing the area of sugarcane crop. He also
emphasiised how the fertility of land is going down day by day.
In his presentation, Prof. Geoffrey Gooch focused on some of the central issues of the
Livediverse project. He talked about a multidisciplinary approach involving the exploration of
bio-physical, socio-economic, cultural-spiritual vulnerabilities, and stressed the processes of
knowledge creation and stakeholders participation, as well as the role played by perception,
values, norms, attitude, legal system and institutions. It is this complexity that makes for
combining study of nature, science, politics and society. He went on to explain the background
of the project and the four different case study areas from Costa Rica, South Africa, Vietnam
and India respectively. He also described the objectives and overall strategy of LiveDiverse
project in detail.
Dr. Karen Nortje gave the background of political, governance and international trans-boundary
complexity of the Kruger National Park and its surroundings, which form the case study area in
South Africa. She described the socio-economic challenges of improving the conditions of
people living in the surroundings of the Kruger National Park. Providing access to piped water,
electricity and improving the poor conditions of settlements and toilet facilities is one of the
major challenges. Providing employment and education and alleviating poverty are even bigger
challenges in South Africa. She also described some aspects of cultural- spiritual life of South
Africa in detail.
Dr. Hoang Phuong presented the salient features of Ba Be National Park and the Na Hang
Natural Reserve, the case study areas in Vietnam. He also described the ecosystems in the two
areas, their economic and social features, and the problems of poverty and living condition of
the people in these areas. He described the rich flora and fauna of the area and also described
the various ethnic divisions within the people in the two areas.
In his presentation on the Costa Rica Case Study of the Terraba River basin, Prof. Geoffrey
Gooch, who presented in the absence of Prof. Lopez from Costa Rica, explained the political
situation and the overall developmental goal in Costa Rica, which were very much tied to
tourism. He also provided detailed information about the Terraba mangrove forest in the case
study area and the demographic profile of the area. Finally, he talked about ethnic communities
and their cultural-spiritual traditions.
Dr. Jay Samant broadly discussed the environmental issues in the Warna Basin of India. In his
presentation he explained faunal diversity and issues related to bio-diversity in the area. He
stated that mining and quarrying are very big issues. Changing land use in favour of tourism and
urbanization in upper catchment of Warna basin is also very prominent, and there are many
sacred groves in this region.
Dr. Bachulkar explained the plant diversity of Western Ghats and talked about many endemic
species. He also pointed out that the illegal extraction of Narkya is causing environmental
imbalance in this region. On the basis of the enormous value of bio-diversity that he
demonstrated he emphasized that there is need to conserve biodiversity.
Dr. S. Y. Jadhav talked about medicinal plants of Warna basin. He stated that herbal medicinal
plants are very important. These plants have to be conserved and cultivated in what is often
called waste land in India. He also expressed the need for rigorous quality research, which
would support the claims of herbal medicine for the benefit of mankind.
Dr. V. B. Jugale made a presentation about sugarcane economy of Warna region. Sugarcane
plays a very vital role in the economy of this area: the share of sugarcane income as a
proportion of total agricultural income ranges from 47 to 63 % for different farmers. Sugarcane
production has increased due to irrigation and it gives direct employment and benefits to the
farmers. He pointed out that there are several linkages which are developed with sugarcane
Dr. Rajendra Kumbhar presented the cultural diversity in Warna basin in which he talked about
diversity of castes and tribes, deity systems, rituals, taboos, and its relation to vulnerability.
Further he noted the features of some warrior goddesses and myths behind them in detail.
Dr. Balasaheb Ajagekar presented socio-economic profile of Dange tribe in the western Ghats of
Kolhapur. He added that socio-cultural and economic life of Dange has been controlled by the
typical geographical environment. The hilly region provides privacy and preserves their socio-
cultural identity and the forest supports their economy. The livestock rearing and collection of
minor forest produce are their major economic activities. He also talked about some of the
aspects of Dange life, like literacy, marriage and economy.
4. Local college meeting in basin area – Prof. Dr. N. D. Patil, Vijahsinha College, Malkapur,
Kolhapur District, 13 December
The LiveDiverse team visited the Vijahsinha College
on the morning of the 13th and was greeted by a
dance and music display (locally called Lezim) from
students who had come in especially on their day off.
They were welcomed by the College Principal, Mr.
Dr. Ajit Magdum and apples, biscuits and tea were
provided. The Principal expressed his interest in, and
his willingness to help with, the Project’s objectives
before the Team took questions from the assembled
4.1 Stakeholder engagements:
4.1.1 Visit to Mr. M. K. Rao, Chief Conservator of Forests, 10 December
On the morning of the 10th of December, the LiveDiverse team visited Mr. M. K. Rao,
Conservator of Forests in Maharashtra. He is responsible for overseeing the State’s 4
national parks, one of which is the Chandoli, along with State forest sanctuaries. The
Chandoli National Park is located in the Western Ghats which are one of the biodiversity
hotspots of India, along with the Western Himalayas. Mr. Rao informed us that there is
comparatively less biodiversity in the north of the Western Ghats than in the south. As
biomass removal is in certain circumstances permitted in the latter but not the former, the
national park regime is more restrictive than that applicable to sanctuaries. It seems that a
proposal to nominate the Western Ghats as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has been
Mr. Rao informed us about the seismic risks in the area. The epicentre of local earthquakes is
moving towards Chandoli. The Government wants people to leave for their own safety, so villages
have been shifted with responsibility for the resettlement of villagers being taken over by the
Department of Forestry. He told us that there were 4 villages still within the national park, with 2 on
its fringes. The process of removal has begun, but financial restrictions mean that they do not expect
to complete the resettlement process for another 2 years.
The department is using the line transect system (with statistical extrapolation) for quantifying
particular species in the national park as this is the most accurate way of doing so. The fauna in the
park includes tigers, wild dogs, leopard, sloth bear, gaur, sambar, and deer (barking and mouse), with
flora including insectivorous species. Mr. Rao told the team that there were 28 large mammal, 155
bird, 58 reptile and 50 butterfly species in the Chandoli park alone, although a full survey had not yet
been completed. Camera traps are used for the larger predators. Poaching and hunting had
previously been a problem, but this has now decreased significantly.
The park is threatened by invasive species that force out indigenous ones. Strobilanthes, while Indian
in origin, is extremely aggressive and has taken over habitat at the expense of other plants that are
more palatable to herbivorous animals. Similar problems have been experience with banil, which
takes over the ground under the forest canopy. The Department wishes to increase the availability of
edible plants in order to augment fauna numbers (in particular, sambar – these animals, weighing up
to 250kg, are eaten by tigers). They have tried two grass species (including timura) but problems have
been encountered with the conundrum of achieving a level of establishment that allows the species
to be eaten and simultaneously spread. Tigers favour forests of certain densities (0.4-0.7). It is
recognised that 40 tigers are needed to create a viable breeding colony. The aim of the department is
to tempt the tigers that live just beyond the fringes of the national park, by presenting them with
their favourite foods. A cyclical relationship exists between tigers and wild dogs.
The Department of Forestry has very limited staff resources in the Chandoli national park: 9 guards,
2 foresters and 1 further employee. In Mr. Rao’s view, the application of the law is becoming
stronger. The Wildlife Act has been amended 4 times since its promulgation in 1972, becoming
progressively stricter over time. Hunting, for example, is banned completely on pain of a 3 year
custodial sentence, although the location of the activity affects the seriousness of the penalty (i.e.
hunting a scheduled animal in a national park attracts a higher sentence than hunting the same
animal outside). The Act allows no development in certain areas, and this has in fact created its own
problems insofar as the Act has become too strict for practical application, thereby causing conflicts
between economic activities and ecosystem protection.
An additional difficulty has been caused by the presence in
the park of the Camptotheca tree, the bark of which contains
camptothecin, which is used in the treatment of cancer. This
particular tree is endemic to the Chandoli area: once the bark
has been removed, the tree dies. It is thought that about
60,000 of these trees have been removed from the area
already. Coppicing can increase the longer term production of
camptothecin, so the department hopes to encourage this
rather than wholesale removal of the tree. A synthetic
substitute is not available at the moment but as for every
natural chemical the search is on! Presently cutting this tree
has been banned and the department is making an all out
effort to prevent theft of this tree. However, enforcement
with respect to preventing removal of the trees is problematic
– to fight in court is expensive because defenders may be big
companies with more resources than those available to the
Tourism is very rare in the park, with an estimated 2-3000 people paying the 20 rupee entry fee every
year. A few international tourists do visit, but tend to do so for very specific reasons. The
Department tries to minimise the number of people who visit the park, and they use brochures to
educate people, and assign guides to groups in order to ensure that best practice is adhered to.
Those who come from a long distance away tend to be more considerate than those who come from
the general locality. In turn, those who visit from the immediate vicinity tend to have been brought
up with greater understanding of the forests than those from beyond 10km away. Annually, there are
three festivals that allow people to hunt en masse – the department is trying to educate people
Finally, Tiger Reserves have been proposed, and foundations can be established under a 2006
amendment to the Wildlife Act that can receive donations. A Tiger Reserve has been established in
the Chandoli area (an area from Koyna to Chandoli National Park), and the longer term aim is to set
up a foundation under the Charitable Societies legislation to increase income flow, but this may be
complicated if there is no evidence that tigers inhabit the park. Mr. Rao’s view was that tigers
avoided those areas inhabited and grazed by the dhangar (shepherd) people.
We also learnt that some forest officials do not believe that strict application of the Wildlife Act was
justified because it was simply not practical. There is a belief that a certain level of development
should be permitted and therefore certain conflicting areas should be excluded from the Act’s remit,
as the protected area under the Act does not actually correspond with the forest itself.
4.1.2 Visit to Khundlapur Village on boundary of Chandoli National Park – 12 December
Khundlapur is a village of 350 people or so (150 households), inhabited by the Dage Dhangar group,
basically a shepherd community which has been also engaging in agriculture and who have lived here
for the past 5 or 6 generations. Their interface with the national park has been a direct one as the
village sits in such close proximity to it and because their livelihoods are made through pastoral
grazing of animals in areas now covered by the park. We arrived late in the afternoon, and a
gathering of villagers congregated on woven mats to talk to us in the village centre. The meeting was
conducted by Joy and Suhas from SOPPECOM, who explained to the villagers why we were there:
the purpose behind the project, and what information we were looking for. During the meeting a
padlock on the metal door of the adjoining building rattled loudly, a reminder of the seismic activity
in the area, especially after the more violent tremor we had experienced in the forest earlier in the
afternoon. Khundlapur was formally only one among 14 similar villages, but as the other 13 lay
inside the bounds of the national park, these have been relocated in order to remove all human
presence from within the park. The villagers spoke of the impact this had had on their society as
they were now alone.
The villagers told us that following the establishment of the national park, they became very much
more restricted as to where their cattle could graze. Domestic animal movement was also affected by
concerns regarding predatory attacks from wild animals in the forest – incidents involving the many
tigers in Chandoli were mentioned in this context especially. We had no independent verification as
to the frequency of tiger attacks, although the Head of the National Park had informed us that the
very existence of tigers within the region was uncertain. The villagers keep buffalo and cattle (a
figure of 10-15 cattle / buffalo per household was quoted to some members of the team], but do
not keep sheep or the goats (in fact this community is known for the buffalo rearing).
After our general introduction, we split up into groups of 2 or 3, each group visiting an individual
household for further interviews, with SOPPECOM staff translating. The electricity for the village
had not yet come on (because of load shedding – in fact they get electricity only for a few hours in
the day), so meetings were conducted in varying degrees of darkness. The house visited by Andrew
and Joy in fact had no light inside beyond that from the domestic hearth and the meeting was
conducted in virtual blackness – we were unable to see the faces of those we were talking to. We sat
in a long room, broadly split lengthways by a single horizontal stave into living quarters for humans
and buffalo. We sat near the fire with four or five men and two women, while the children watched.
The householders (mainly the men, although we had a few contributions from the women, who
were also busy with attending to the children) told us that the vast majority of the village’s
households were landowners – less than 10% were landless. This particular household owned 10-12
acres of land, although the reality was that this was insufficient to provide for all the family needs
because of repeated destruction from animals from within the park. They do not grow cash crops,
relying on a single rice and finger millet crop for self-subsistence. The rice grown is a high-yield
variety, for which they receive indirect subsidies from the government (through hidden subsidies in
the inputs like chemical fertilisers, pesticides, irrigation water and so on), and farmers use both
chemical fertilizer and manure. We asked about alternative sources of income, but it was not clear
what these were because the Maharashtra State government’s Right to Work programme does not
appear to extend to this village because of the reality of the lack of productive work available.
Production of cash crops, such as groundnut, is rendered impossible because these are also crops
enjoyed by wild animals, and villagers lack the financial resources to pay to properly enclose their
crops to keep out wild boar for example, who are extremely destructive.
As regards the source of water for the village, there appear to be a number. The principal source of
drinking water is a spring next to the village. Women collect water for their families three times
every day from this source. Secondly, a borehole has been drilled on the outskirts of the village.
Unfortunately the water from this borehole is of poor quality, despite being 240 ft deep. An engineer
advised on the ideal location for the borehole following a decision from the local panchayat, but
when the government-appointed contractors arrived to drill, they chose an alternative location more
convenient for their machinery. Finally, households receive water through a central reticulated
system, the ultimate source of which may be the borehole. The government provides a purification
treatment powder to the householders, which we presume to be chlorine. This makes the water
clean, but undrinkable, so it is not used for direct human consumption. The system is paid for by
householder (400 rupees per year), with pumping costs of 7000 rupees annually. The fees are
collected by the village committee. We also heard that electricity is available for 13 hours a day. A
common pump and rotation system for irrigation scheduling is in place, and unused portions can be
passed to those who need it.
The villagers told us that what they really wanted was fencing – it was not clear if they wanted the
park to be fenced off, or simply for their crops to be better protected by mesh fencing, but
ultimately they want to increase their potential to grow cash crops for income generation. They told
us that there were no local rules as to the use of natural resources – they are not allowed to take
wood from the national park, with enforcement being done by the local political representative of
the panchayat. There appears to be a prohibition on collecting green wood from the park, and
certain other types of wood are not used because of religious restrictions. We were not able to
ascertain what penalty / compliance system was in place, although Armelle and Geoff were told that
disagreements were resolved by traditional village meetings. While these village meetings were
presided over by village elders (“respected” persons). Generally only men attended these traditional
meetings. The formal government body at the village level is the Village Panchayat (akin to a local
municipal body) in which members are elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage. By statute,
the body must have one-third women members at least..
Aside from the water collection duties for women, the division of labour among households is clear.
With respect to agriculture, both men and women are responsible for harvesting, with men
preparing the paddy for planting and women actually transplanting seedlings from the nursery to the
paddy. Additionally, women are responsible for all aspects of household management. Armelle and
Geoff were told that the villagers had combined resources and bought an apartment in Mumbai for
their offspring who are casual workers there.
4.1.3 Visit to bauxite mine, Chandoli, 13 December
Near the village of Sonavde, almost inside the Chandoli national park, a large open-cast mine is
extracting bauxite from the hills. The LiveDiverse group visited the mine on the morning of the 13th,
taking the long, dusty road up from near Chandoli dam that is used by the trucks that carry the
bauxite away for processing. We were accompanied by local activists, academics and Ph. D. students,
including Bharat Patil, Sanjay Gurav, Prof. Jay Samant, and two residents of Udgiri village
The mine is operated by Swati Minerals Company which has been extracting ore on the basis
of a 5 year lease. The group was told that the history of the ownership of the land on which
the mining was taking place was quite complicated, and the description that follows had
numerous inconsistencies. It appears that the land was originally owned by a single family,
and that one of its members began selling off parcels of the land to the mining company /
originally a sacred grove (see below for further details on sacred groves) that was controlled
by a religious group. It is thought that one of the conditions of the leases has been that the
land should be rehabilitated at the end of the lease term. The operation of the mine
necessarily involves the removal of all topsoil as the bauxite lies 5 metres under the ground.
Once the ore has been extracted, there is nothing left except bare rock. We saw abandoned
sections of the mine where resources had been exhausted, presumably under previous leases,
where it was clear that no rehabilitation had taken place.
However, we were joined by
representatives of the mining
company who took us to sections
where reforestation efforts were
under way. It was clear though even
to those who were not forestry
experts that these efforts were
desperately inadequate. It appeared
that the plants had been put into the
ground in plastic-lined holes that
had had some soil added, but the
surrounding ground was simply
rubble. It was also evident that not
all the species that had been
introduced were locally indigenous.
In many cases the plastic had not been removed and the nutritional value of the ground was clearly
inadequate for trees. The longer term sustainability of these reforestation efforts must therefore be
seriously in question. We have not seen a copy of the lease granting the company the right to mine,
but we hope this may be made available by Department of Forestry, the grantor, in browned-out
format so that commercial confidentiality is protected. Despite the opposition of the local people
and the State administration, the ministry of forests (and the environment!) agreed to extend the
lease of the mining to this area (which is getting closer and closer to the boundaries of the NP. Swati
Minerals Company owns about 770 ha of land bordering the park. Of this they have lease for a
portion of it about 150 ha which they are currently mining. That lease comes up for renewal
periodically. They are also asking for an extension of the lease to the remaining area. The latter being
a new lease and the park having been declared a park in the interim now requires a process of public
hearing etc., so the lease for the area already under operation is routinely renewed, but the extension
has not been given for the other portion. Local activists fear that their opposition may not be taken
into account and the lease may be granted for the remaining area.]
From one of these land rehabilitation sections, it is possible to see in the distance a series of small
white cairns These mark the boundary of the protected area into which the mine cannot stray. The
mine area is outside the National Park but inside what is a Reserve Forest area where restrictions are
not as stringent as in the NP. It appears that the protected area does not actually correspond with
the Chandoli park exactly, as there is a buffer zone between the national park and the mine, but we
were not able to ascertain a) how the buffer zone worked or how it was delineated; b) what would
happen if the mining activities did extend into the buffer zone; or c) how far away the national park
actually was from this boundary. What was clear however was that the mining activities were being
conducted right up to the cairns themselves. The dust emanating from the mine covered all the
vegetation on the access road – it is assumed that this will also be the case in areas of forest
adjoining parts of the mine where extraction is ongoing.
The mine is worked by migrants from Karnataka state and mostly they seemed to be nomadic tribes
- Banjara and others. They take let say one truck load for breaking up big stones into small pieces
and for this they get a lump-sum amount. We observed men, women and children, originating from
other southern States, breaking stones with sledgehammers in the open sun. On the way down from
the mine, we stopped at the house of a relative of one of the local activist Sanjay Gurav, where we
were shown examples of the Rab agricultural practices in the form of coppiced trees.
4.1.4 Visit to Udgiri Sacred Grove and temples, 13 December
Further down the hill from the mine, the access road winds through the Udgiri sacred grove, one of
the largest sacred groves in Maharashtra. There is no access to the mine without going through the
grove. These groves centre around a sacred place which may be a large tree or spring. These sacred
places will have associated temples, and are governed by particular rules regarding the use of their
natural resources. For instance, no wood can be taken from them, even if it is dead, although this
rule may not prevent exploitation in some cases. Sacred groves are managed by the Temple Property
Committee, although the Udgiri one is now run by the government. Visiting deities are taken
through the grove and it is worshipped by locals. The fact that the mining access road must go
through the grove suggests that the possible encroachment of the forest is possible, but the
relationship between formal governance systems and the religious norms that govern the sacred
groves is not clear as yet.
We also visited two temples at the site. These were dedicated to different deities – one, more
established in the Hindu pantheon and other goddesses like Kalamma, Sarswati and Laxmi
and Ninai-Jakai, Temblai, Vitthalai who are local deities. In the first temple, a woman sat on
the floor surrounded by a small group. They were listening to her answer their questions
because they believed she was possessed by a spirit that could respond to their complaints
regarding their lot or problems they were facing. Across the path in the other temple the
situation was rather different. The temple felt more primitive in some ways, with the three
deities seated in niches on the wall facing the doors and people kneeling on the floor. There
we also saw scenes were the people were trying to propitiate the gods/goddesses through the
middle men (temple priests) for evil/bad things to happen to their opponents or whom they
have some sort of enmity. It is some sort of black magic. It was suggested that income
generation could compromise the protection of the grove.
4.1.5 Visit to Sonwade Village Jyotiba temple ceremony
Jyotibacha Dongar (the hill of Jyotiba) is a pilgrimage centre 8 kms from Panhala fort, which the
team visited on their way back to Pune. The hill is named after the deity Jyotiba. Thousands of
pilgrims visit this temple every week. The ancient temple is situated on the top of the hill. Mythology
says, Jyotiba helped Goddess Mahalaxmi in her fight with the demons. He founded his kingdom on
this mountain. He belongs to the Nath Panth or cult. It is situated to the north of Kolhapur in the
deep, surrounded by green mountains. The original temple was built in 1730 by Navajisaya. It is 330
feet above sea-level. The interior is ancient and the idol is fourhanded. There are other temples and
light-towers. On Chaitra Poornima a major fair is held, when thousands of devotees come with tall
(Sasan) sticks. Sunday is sacred to Jyotiba.
While the main temple of Jyotiba is situated at Dongar, in Sonwade a separate image has been
worshipped. The team visited Sonwade on the evening of the
We met with senior villagers in a house shared by two brothers and their families, who explained the
background to the Jyotiba celebrations in the village. It seems that around the turn of the 20 th
century the village suffered a number of calamities. In an effort to gain some respite, the villagers
instituted a regular weekly ceremony to honour their local deity. The village began to recover from
the earlier traumas and the villagers decided that it would be wise to continue with the ceremonies,
which are unusual because such celebrations are normally held much less regularly. Each of the tasks
performed in the elaborate ritual must be made by people from certain castes.
In this village, balutedar system is in place. The balutedari system is based on a caste hierarchy in
which occupations are formally organised. In Maharashtra there are about 12 balutedari groups who
provide different services like potters, carpenters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and so on to the main
agricultural community. Jyotiba is the deity of this particular village. People from different castes
carry Jyotiba’s Palakhi (a sort of a palanquin) each week mostly on Sunday. On this day farmers do
not perform any agricultural activity in the village. The castes like Mang, Davri Gosavi, Chambhar,
Ramoshi, and Maratha participate in this cultural function and each participating caste has its own
functions pre-determined. On this occasion for instance, Mang play the Halagi (drum), chambhar hold
the Divata, and Ramoshi provide protection to the palakhi. After this particular ritual people take a
procession of Jyotiba around the temple. But in the annual fair (yatra) they take a procession
through the entire village. The yatra of this deity falls during the months of February-March.
The team very much enjoyed the visit to the Jyotiba ritual as it was a unique window on to the
spiritual lives of local people that would otherwise not been available to them. From the LiveDiverse
perspective, it gave the team some insight into the importance of spiritual health to the local people.
The villagers were extremely welcoming and the team appreciated their openness very much.
4.2 Other basin experiences:
4.2.1 Visit to confluence of Warana and Krishna rivers, Haripur, 10 December
After the morning visit to the Department of Forestry in Kolhapur, the team visited the downstream
extremes of the Warana River, where it flows into the Krishna River in Sangli district. On the way,
the bus passed a number of tent settlements occupied by the itinerant cane-cutting workers The
cane cutters come from mostly Marathwada region of Maharashtra State. and live in very primitive
conditions near to the fields in which the cane grows. The work of cutting the cane is extremely
hard, necessitating a great deal of bending into the rows of sharp sugar cane leaves and the potential
danger from snakes living in the cane. We were told that sugar cane is in some ways an unusual crop
– it takes almost thirteen months to reach the maturity needed for cutting. There is an almost linear
relationship between water availability and yield – if there is a 10% drop in water, the cane will lose
10% of its potential yield. This means that if water is not available for a period the plant will not die,
it will simply not be as productive. This is very different from other agricultural crops, as most will
simply die if they don’t get water. For the farmer this means the difference between getting 90% of
his expected income and nothing at all. With no shortage of potential buyers in the area, and with
the world sugar price at a historically high level, it is not surprising that so many farmers choose to
grow sugar cane. The extensive cultivation of sugar cane creates problems, though, with respect to
the effective mono-culturalisation of the lower Warana basin and also water logging and salinisation,
and further work needs to be done in the context of the LiveDiverse project to identify the
corresponding impacts on biodiversity, and the downstream consequences of irrigating such a thirsty
From a legal point of view the water allocation
regime and sectoral institutional concentrations may
potentially exacerbate downstream impacts by
failing to account for the combined impact of a
large number of unlicensed irrigation abstractions
upstream, and by the inability to combine water use
information at the river basin level.
Further down the road, the team reached Haripur
near dusk, so many people were travelling home.
The team took the ferry across the river from the
boarding point below the village temple, along with
women returning laden with firewood and cattle
fodder (we were told that women routinely carried
up to 40kg of wood on their head). An issue related
to water quality is that Sangli Municipal Corporation
releases a flow of dirty water into Krishna River
which is very much adjacent to confluence area.
This flow sometimes merges into Warana River.
4.2.2 Jaggery factory, near Kolhapur, 11 December
On the way back from the workshop we stopped at one of the many jaggery-making units, locally
called gurals, that can be seen in the area. The agriculture in the lower part of the Warana basin is
dominated by sugar cane production. Much of this cane goes straight to the large sugar processing
plants that are nearby, but local jaggery production still goes on in small factories. The sugar
processing plants are heavily involved with other aspects of community welfare beyond simply
paying salaries – they may have their own healthcare and education systems. Jaggery factories do not
have these additional characteristics, but in some ways they have very much less impact than the
The Dickensian factory consisted of a small single story
building, with a canopy outside under which the cane was
crushed. Around the building was an area that, had it been in the
west would have been a car park. Instead, it was entirely
carpeted by a spongy thick layer of spent sugar cane husks – this
is bagasse, which is subsequently used for fuel to boil the sap.
We watched as the cane was crushed, and a large bamboo basket
was filled with the husks.
When this was filled, a boy hoisted the basket on to his head,
with help, before tramping across the husk carpet and dumping
his basket-load in the far corner. Next to the crushing gear was a
drain that took the cane sap, a pump then pushing this up to a
bamboo pipe that stretched across the ceiling of the building,
which was accessed up a few steps next to the canopy.
Inside, an enormous flat cauldron of boiling sap, around 3 metres across and with multiple handles
around its edge, sent billows of steam into the room. A man walked around the cauldron skimming
off scum with a mesh ladle, adding it to the grey mass in a bucket. On the far side of the cauldron
was a further vat, fed by the other end of the bamboo pipe above it and serving to filter the raw sap.
Further into the room was a low square pit perhaps 20cm deep and 2 metres square, connected to
the cauldron by two rails. When the sap had been boiled for two and half hours, the cauldron was
wheeled along the rails using bamboo sticks put through the handles, and the contents disgorged
into the pit for cooling. Once cooled to a paste, the yellowy jaggery was put into buckets for setting,
and a neat stack of finished moulded jaggery “tubs” sat at the far end of the room. The sap is boiled
using cane husks (bagasse), so the system is somewhat closed from a resource use perspective (aside
from the squat chimney out the back that belched out dark smoke). The taste of the final product
was richer than that of sugar, and is used as a flavouring and sweet. In earlier times, each village
would have its own jaggery plant, but there are now far fewer of them, presumably a result of the
increased popularity of processed sugar.
4.2.3 Chandoli National Park, 12 December
The journey up to the national park took us through the Warana Basin, where we passed under
unused canal infrastructure built for the dam before stopping at a couple of viewpoints overlooking
the lake. We were shown examples of locally invasive faunal species (lantana most specifically), and
the valuable camptotheca tree, along with butea monosperma and curiosities like the plant locally called
dattpadi, which when rubbed on a person’s teeth makes them fall out.
We ate lunch at an old temple site, having passed some elaborately ornamented tribal women en
route. The temple had been extremely remote until the construction of the road into the park, and
was focused on a spring feeding a tank next to the building. The temple was built around a cavity
underneath an enormous boulder. Nearby, we saw the lookout for a troop of hanuman langurs,
before returning to the bus to visit the nearby plateau. The walk up to the plateau took around an
hour, through a forest criss-crossed with the paths made by animals. We passed a suite of caves near
the top which we were told were inhabited by either sloth bears, porcupines or leopards – none of
which we were keen to disturb. The plateau itself was covered almost entirely by grass, with only a
few small stands of trees. At the edges, deep fissures in the rock were visible, and the influence of
water and seismic activity result in the slow calving of huge chunks of rock from the plateau. From
the part of the plateau where the team stood it was not possible to see anything other than forest
around them, but the experience from the bauxite mine the following day demonstrated the
proximity of potentially invasive economic activity. When we returned to the bus at the foot of the
plateau, there was an earthquake of 5.3 on the Richter scale, which was a salutary experience for the
team, especially in the light of what Mr. Rao at the Department of Forestry had told us about
1. Conclusions of the field trip
The India field trip was extremely useful for the LiveDiverse project. The team left with a much
greater awareness of the biodiversity in the area, the way in which spiritual elements interact with
everyday life, and an impression of the economic and physical conditions of those living near the
national park. The trip also highlighted the difficulties faced by the authorities in protecting
vulnerable ecosystems: corruption in the Department of Forestry, and lack of human resources
mean that enforcement powers are weak and licensing restrictions subject to dilution. Legislation
that may not be ideally fit for purpose also potentially binds the hands of the authorities, reducing
the credibility of legislation and undermining its impact. The status of the various parts of the case
study area has a potentially significant effect on the level of protection afforded to biodiversity, but
institutional silos may have consequences with respect to the ability of government to objectively
balance biodiversity protection and livelihood security.
The trip also provided an excellent platform for the team to meet many local stakeholders and to
gauge the physical scale of the basin. The issues raised by the villagers next to the national park are
crucial for the project in identifying the particular areas of vulnerability applicable to their situation.
The spiritual dimension of the forest areas and water sources was constantly being reiterated
through visits to local temples, chance meetings with religious groups and travelling deities, and
through the participation and observation of the Jyotiba ceremony. The team appreciated the
invaluable experience of being able to draw on the combined learning of relevant local experts who
were on hand at all times to respond to questions. It also helped the team better identify the
similarities and differences between the Indian and other case study areas.
Important contacts were made with institutions and people in the basin who may be in a position to
assist with future project work and dissemination, and whose views and intellectual inputs will have
a strong impact on the project’s conclusions.