Tag Archives: gurgaon

The Poor- Excluded from their own common natural resource management

By Nidhi Singh nee Batra

Yesterday, on the World Environment Day I went for a documentary on ‘Mangar Forest- the need to save Bani(sacred grove)’. Prior to this documentary I had an experience of walking through these Aravali ranges by a walk conducted by Pradip Krishen last year. Wedged between the advancing sprawl of Delhi and Faridabad, and less than an hour’s drive from the iconic Qutab Minar, Mangar Bani is one of the last patches of Aravalli forests with native tree and plant species

In the clutches of new development, commercialization, and fancy tourism project – this sacred grove is being ‘planned’ to be engulfed. This grove has until now been preserved by the local villagers. These villagers are now selling off their land slowly and steadily at extremely low prices to private developers. Villagers regret that in 1970s when the government allowed privatization of the village commons, they sold their share in the common land without knowing the actual location of their holdings. The plots were not demarcated on ground in the village till mid 1980s. The transactions gave private investors a toehold in the Bani. The entire area is now like an isolated island subjected to urbanization pulls.

The villagers were once dependent on this forest, for their fuel stock, fodder etc. these villagers are also now adopting urbanized jobs and leaving agricultural activities behind. Soon they shall be urbanized. An aspect of urbanization is economic prosperity. They are getting the prosperity by selling of their land, even if at cheap prices. But environmentalist believes that this land is a jewel – a jewel of an ecosystem. Some villagers support these environmentalist. Most I fear see the lucrative option of moving into the city. Villagers have now formed a village development committee. The committee has prepared a petition for the forest department, asking it to acquire the Bani land from its current owners.

How should one advocate a case such as this- when environmental value is immense, residents have a right to better livelihood and there is urgent need to stop the private developers on making a mega tourism plan in this precious ecosystem? Amidst this all, Mangar Development Plan 2030 is out- and published late such that environmentalist could not even file their objections on the plan.
Question is – why are environment, poverty, growth and development – all in constant battle in our country?!

Though the Mangar residents are poor at present, can the government not compensate them – and make a model of a sustainable – village managed forest reserve- even in urban areas?! And I would extend this case to all other natural resources that the slum dwellers are dependent on – slums around Mithi in Mumbai, Slums about Boriatalab in Raipur – Can’t we develop a model of community managed natural resources in our urban areas… The answer might not necessarily be just rehabilitation of this poverty stricken from their habitat..

At policy level a series of new programs in India for community natural resource management (CNRM) are initiated – decentralizing control over local resources of water, forests, and inland fishing from government departments to end-users such as farmers, forest dwellers, and fishers.
Despite the government’s “inclusive growth” policy and hope that the program will improve the lives of women, scheduled castes and tribes, minorities, tenants, the landless, and land-poor, only rarely do the poor or marginalized have any real impact on resource management.


The Bani, a sacred grove spread over 200 hectares (ha), has been treasured by and cared for centuries by the residents of three villages—Mangar, Bandhwari and Baliawas—in memory of Gudriya Baba, a saint, who they believe attained moksha (salvation) in the Bani. Gudariya Baba’s shrine inside the Bani is a constant reminder to the villagers of the saint’s wrath if they harm the grove

Photograph by: Vaibhav Raghunandan


As ‘beautiful’ as it gets!

Shared by Nidhi Singh nee Batra-PRIA

We were talking of territorialities in our last entry – and the epitome of that was in the article of today’s Hindustan Times: ‘Slums take sheen out of high-rises in Sector 54’

Inside the article you would find the following sentences, amongst other stench generating proactive sentences against the urban poor:

Amid swanky building touching the skies are rows and rows of grubby shanties…

The air stinks of disease and poverty…

Just behind ‘Summit’ — a shining beautiful high-rise building — one can see the mushrooming slum area…

“A few days back, an empty bottle of liquor was thrown at our building. We were shocked and scared as the bottle could have damaged the vehicles parked near the boundary walls,” said Sudesh Pathak, a resident of the area….

To read more click here http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Gurgaon/Slums-take-sheen-out-of-high-rises-in-Sector-54/Article1-849258.aspx

All of this makes you question about the ‘Right to Dignity’ that we are fighting for – middleclass/ the rich are so quick in ridiculing the poor.  Poverty is not a choice, rather to end poverty IS !

Air doesn’t stink of poverty – It just gushes the guilt out of the ‘privileged’ who would like to close their eyes to those who are ‘unprivileged’.

As far as I remember – Cities were meant for ‘people’ and not for vehicles– that the rich suddenly now become scared of an empty bottle near the parking lot- least it might harm a vehicle- not to miss the rich do not really mind throwing empty beer bottles out of their cars when they indulge in all the episodes of drinking and driving. It’s amazing how the ‘poor’ are less of a citizen of this city in comparison to imported vehicles of the rich!

Who defines beautiful?! Why is a ‘swanky’ new building more beautiful than the struggle of the impoverished! Who knows this building might just have an illegal past, forced eviction of dwellers on the land, could have series of bribes passed for its foundation – but even then just because it now sits all tall and glamourous- it becomes beautiful that is losing its beauty because of the grubby shackles!

Instead of ridiculing poverty, had some action been taken towards ‘ENDING IT’, the whole world would have been a beautiful place to live in – and not just the swanky glass buildings!