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EQUATIONS is a research, advocacy and campaigning

organisation working since 1985 on the impacts of tourism

particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local
communities. We envision tourism that is sustainable & non
exploitative, where decision making is democratised and
Who Really Benefits from Tourism?
access to and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed.
EQUATIONS critique on tourism development

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Working Paper Series

Equitable Tourism Options

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Paper Series

Section I

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Working Paper Series 2009–2010 Section I

1 The Tourism Development Conundrum 3
Impacts and Conflicts with Peoples’ Rights and Challenges
to Conservation of Protected Areas in Indian States,
July 2009

2. Women Speak! 21
Women's Engagement with Community Based and
Nature Based Tourism, July 2009

3. Natural Disasters: Learning from the Tsunami, 29

September 2009

4. Canopy Tourism: Concept and Practices in the 37

Indian Context, October 2009

5. REDD in India 41
An Independent Monitoring Report, December 2009

6. Ecological Commons, People and Tourism, 55

March 2010

7. Child Pornography and Tourism, March 2010 59

The Tourism
Development Conundrum
Impacts and Conflicts with Peoples’ Rights and Challenges to
Conservation of Protected Areas in Indian States
July 2009

1. Introduction
Ecotourism is being pushed aggressively in and around terrestrial and marine protected areas - wildlife
sanctuaries and national parks, and unprotected areas that are of significant ecological value. Many
of these areas are inhabited by indigenous peoples. While these areas have been conserved by
indigenous and local communities, they have been, very often forcibly, displaced from these areas for
the purpose of conservation. In many Indian states the governments are still attempting to lure them
out of the forest areas by promising monetary or land compensations. While the motive behind displacing
the indigenous and local communities is stated by the governments as primarily for conservation,
areas that were set aside by law for conservation have witnessed an increase in tourism activities.
Protected Areas in India have had a history of visitation even prior to their being declared as wildlife
sanctuaries and national parks under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 as in the case of Corbett
National Park and Kanha National Park. The volume however was small compared to the scale in
which it happens today. However, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 has allowed tourist activity
inside the Protected Areas. Therefore, when newer areas get declared as protected under the Wild
Life (Protection) Act, 1972, there is no problem for tourist related activities to happen in those areas
e.g. in Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh. There is also a tendency within the state
forest, tourism departments and some tourism industry players to label as ecotourism any tourism
activities that happen in these protected and unprotected areas. The Madhya Pradesh Ecotourism
Development Board identifies Kanha and Bandhavgarh national parks as ecotourism destinations but
not many resort owners based there claim that they are into ecotourism. The label ecotourism seems
loosely applied to market tourism to a growing but niche segment who wants more ecotourism. Some
tourism players have used the term to indicate their a few eco-friendly practices that they have adopted.
In India, ecotourism in practice generally is not much different from the way in which mainstream or
mass tourism operates as it lacks the essential principles of environmental sustainability and equity in
benefit sharing with indigenous & local communities. Therefore, in this paper, we shall use the term
tourism rather than the generally misused “ecotourism”.
We have selected four states to understand the challenges that tourism development poses in the
context of environmental impacts of tourism and involvement of institutions of local self government in
tourism. These are the northern state of Uttarakhand, the central Indian Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh
and the Union Territory Andaman Islands. Ecotourism is actively being pursued in the Protected
Areas of these states; even in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh which have the special status of
having Schedule V Areas1.

Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on 9th November 2000. The state was
carved out of Uttar Pradesh. One of the reasons for the formation of the state was for greater autonomy
to the people of Uttarakhand. It has a total land area of 51,125 sq km,2 of which 93% is mountainous

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

and 64% is covered by forest.3 Protected Areas in Uttarakhand include the Jim Corbett National Park
(the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital District, Valley of Flowers National Park and
Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, Rajaji National Park in Haridwar District, and Govind
Pashu Vihar National Park and Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District.4 The state has been a
destination for mountaineering, hiking and rock climbing in India, a recent development in adventure
tourism, in the region has been white water rafting and other adventures sports. Ecotourism, agri-
tourism and rural tourism have also found new grounds in many villages of the state.5
The people of Uttarakhand are heterodox Hindus and Buddhists, while Sikh migrants from West
Punjab have settled in the lowlands since 1947. The main indigenous tribes are Jaunsari, Bhotia,
Buksha, Tharu and Raji. As a collection of smaller tribes, Jaunsari society is caste stratified with the
indigenous Koltas as the main service caste and Khasa Brahmins and Rajputs as the main cultivators.
Bhotias are subdivided into three main categories: The Jadhs of Uttarkashi, the Marchas (once mainly
traders) and Tolchas (farmers) of Chamoli, and the Shaukas of Pithoragarh (near Dharchula). The
Bukshas are inhabitants of the Terai. They have merged all their castes and even today, observe only
septs (family names) among their people. The Tharus are a tribal Tibetan-related people that originally
inhabited the eastern zone of the Terai, along the border with Nepal. They are subdivided into many
sub-tribes, although a majority of them live in Nainital (now Udham Singh Nagar). As agriculuralists,
Tharus tend to have large families that live communally, and it is traditional for brothers to live under
one roof. The Rajis, also known as Vanrawats (forest lords) are few in number and live in the forest.
They inhabit the woods around Ascot in southern Pithoragarh (now Champawat district). A few Muslim
groups are also native to the area, although most have come recently. The Muslim Gujjar herders also
migrate to the hills.6 The Gujjars also inhabit forest areas such as in Rajaji and Corbett.

Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh is the second largest Indian state in size with an area of 308,000 sq km.7 The forest
area of the state is 94,689.38 sq km constituting 30.71% of the geographical area of the state.8 There
are 9 National Parks and 25 Sanctuaries spread over an area of 10,862 sq. km constituting 11.40% of
the total forest area. The national parks are: Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Satpura, Sanjay, Madhav, Van Vihar,
Mandla Plant Fossils, Panna and Pench. The wildlife sanctuaries are: Bori, Bagdara, Phen, Ghatigaon,
Gandhisagar, Karera, Ken, Ghariyal, Kheoni, Narsinghgarh, N. Chambal, Nauradehi, Pachmari, Panpatha,
Kuno, Pench, Ratapani, Sanjay Dubri, Singhori, Son Ghariyal, Sardapur, Sailana, Ralamandal, Orchha,
Gangau and V. Durgawati.9 The state has been a destination for wildlife tourism, cultural and heritage
tourism, and pilgrimages. The state plans to enter the leisure and business tourism.10
The total population of Tribals in Madhya Pradesh is 122.33 lakh constituting about 20.27% of the
total population of the state. There are 46 Scheduled Tribal groups and 3 Special Primitive Tribal
Groups. About 40.63% of total geographical area of the state is under the Tribal Sub Plan and 33.6%
of total geographical area has been notified as Scheduled Area.11 The tribal area of Madhya Pradesh
can be divided into four main zones as follows:
O Western Cultural Zone: Districts of Ratlam, Jhabua, Dhar, Barwani, Khargone, Khandwa, Harda,
Dewas and Indore fall under this zone. The main tribes residing in this zone are Bhil, Bhilala,
Barela and Patelia.
O Central Cultural Zone: This zone comprises of Mandla, Dindori, Balaghat, Seoni, Chhindwara,
Jabalpur, Katni, Narsimhapur, Sagar, Damoh, Umaria, Sehore and Bhopal. The main tribes residing
in this zone are Gond, Pardhan, Korku, Baiga, Bharia, Nagarachi and Ojha.
O North-Eastern Cultural Zone: Districts of Shahdol, Sidhi, Rewa, Satna, Panna, Chhatarpur, Guna
and Tikamgar fall under this zone. Kol, Biar, Panika, Sour and Pav are the main tribes residing in
this zone.
O North-Western Cultural Zone: This zone consists of Morena, Shivpuri, Sheopur, Datia, Gwalior
and Bhind districts. The main tribe residing in this zone is Seharia. Three Special Primitive Tribal

The Tourism Development Conundrum

Groups - Bharia (Patalkot, Chhindwara), Baiga (Umaria, Shahdol, Dindori, Balaghat and Mandla)
and Seharia (Shivpuri, Sheopur, Guna, Gwalior, Morena) reside in Madhya Pradesh.12

Chhattisgarh, carved out of Madhya Pradesh came into being on 1st November 2000 as the 26th State
of the Union. It fulfils the long-cherished demand of the tribal people.13 The forest area of the state is
59,772.39 sq km. 14 It has 10.88% of its forests under Protected Area (PA) network. There are three
national parks: Indravati, Kanger Ghati and Guru Ghasidas, and eleven wildlife sanctuaries:
Achanakmar, Badalkhol, Bhairamgarh, Barnawapara, Gomarda, Pameda, Semarsot, Sitanadi, Tamor
Pingala, Udanti, Bhoramdev.15 The state has identified ecotourism, culture, heritage, ethno tourism,
pilgrimages, adventure tourism, and business & leisure tourism as the thrust areas.16
The population of Chhattisgarh is notable for the high proportion of Scheduled Tribes and for specific sects
primarily constituted of Schedule Castes. Of the total population of Chhattisgarh, tribals constitute at least
32.5%, which is a significantly high percentage. In the last few decades, the demographic profile of tribal
dominated areas has undergone a change. This is a cause for concern as it represents large-scale intrusion
of non tribals in tribal areas. This changing demographic profile is strongly evident in Bastar, where the
proportion of tribals has decreased in the last few decades. According to the 1991 census the tribal population
in the ten districts of Chhattisgarh was Durg -12.6 %, Raipur - 18.6%, Rajnandgaon - 25.3 %, Bilaspur -
23.4 % Surguja - 54.8 %, Raigarh - 45.5%, Bastar - 67.7 %. The various tribes in the Chhattisgarh region
are Gonds, Muria, Bhumja, Baiga, Kanars, Kawars, Halbas etc.17

Andaman Islands
The Andaman & Nicobar are a group of picturesque islands, big and small, inhabited and uninhabited,
a total of 572 islands, islets and rocks lying in the South Eastern Part of the Bay of Bengal.18 The
forests in the Andaman and the Nicobar group of islands occupy 7,606 km² or 92.2 per cent of the total
geographical area of 8,249 km²; of this 5,883 km² is forests in the Andaman group and 1,723 km², in
the Nicobar group. (Note: The Directorate of Economics and Statistics puts the forest cover in 2006
as 5,629 km2 for Andamans and 1,542 km2 for the Nicobars). Of the total forest cover, dense forests
with crown density of 40 per cent and above constitute 85.9 per cent, open forests with crown density
less than 40 per cent constitute 1.7 per cent and mangroves constitute 12.7 per cent. The legally
notified forests cover 7,170. 69 km² (86.93 per cent of the geographical area); of this, 4,242 km² are
protected forests and 2,929 km² are reserved forests. The A&NI are fringed by one of the most
spectacular and extensive reefs in the world that hold significance nationally and globally as the last
pristine reefs in the Indian Ocean. However, the extent of reefs in the A&NI is not accurately known
yet and recent surveys report it as 11,939 km². There are two protected areas for reefs in the Andamans
– the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and the Rani Jhansi Marine National Park, both having
adjoining reefs that need inclusion.19
The Andaman Islands are home to four indigenous tribes. The Great Andamanese people numbered
around 6,000 in the 1850s, when the islands were colonised by the British for establishing a penal colony.
Today they number 43 and have been marginalised to Strait Island on the southeast coast of Middle
Andaman. The Onge who now inhabit Little Andaman Island were the next to be contacted in 1920 and
they met a fate similar to that of the Andamanese. The Sentinelese, estimated to be 39 in number, have for
long inhabited North Sentinel Island 60 km southwest of South Andaman Island. The Jarawas are in the
interior and west coast of South and Middle Andaman and currently number about 240.20
A dynamic demographic profile of the islands makes it difficult to define the term “local community”, as
it does not constitute any homogeneous group. There are 503 inhabited villages in the A&NI of which
334 are in the Andaman District on eleven islands and the remaining 170 villages, hamlets, and small
and individual family units on 12 islands in the Nicobar district. The total population according to the
2001 census is 356,152.21

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

2. People’s Struggles in the States

The Constitutional provisions of the 73rd Amendment and Schedule V & PESA Act (refer sections
below for details) that accord rights to indigenous and local communities to land and autonomy have
not been adequately devolved by the state legislatures. The gradual increase in the struggles of
indigenous peoples and local communities for human rights, constitutional rights and for cultural
identity, rights over natural resources and common property resources (CPR), is seen as an obstacle
by the governments. Often these voices of dissent are suppressed by use of state sponsored violence.
The land of indigenous and local communities is continuously being encroached upon to usher in
development that usurps not only their land but also their autonomy, control over their region and
traditional rights and systems of self governance. Land for mining, dams, industries and power plants
is appropriated even in Scheduled Areas in the under the guise of economic growth and development.
Many of these areas are sites of conflict - seeing increasing violence and armed struggles as the
demand for development that reaches people according their needs and aspirations is rejected and
top down development measures that do not benefit local people are imposed.
While the state functions as facilitator cum real estate broker for acquiring land for industries, the
common land of villages and people’s rights over these common property resources in Scheduled
Areas are handed out to private bidders. The ever decreasing availability of per capita common
property resources have direct linkages to worsening the status of families that continue to depend on
the CPRs to meet their daily needs, livelihoods, income needs and employment opportunities derived
from the CPRs. The accelerated privatisation of common property resources and their decreasing
geographical coverage is also increasing inequalities within the society, increasing hardship for women
who collect these resources and thereby making worse the living standards of families at the bottom
of the development pyramid. Though the state is just a trustee of these public resources, it has
increasingly connived with industry to privatise these resources for commercial gain and therefore

Figure 1: Critical issues of study states in which context tourism is located

Map source: Government of India

The Tourism Development Conundrum

impeded free public use. On the other hand, extractive industries are allowed to operate even in
protected areas and other ecologically sensitive areas, on government subsidies and incentives with
procedures that streamline approval of these projects in the absence of any environmental or social
impact assessment reports.
It is therefore that when the tourism industry makes an easy entry into these spaces, facilitated by
governments that the local people ask “why the Taj is considered eco and not the Baiga” 22.

3. Key Tourism Issues in the States

In order to understand the key tourism issues in the states the following sites were selected:
O Uttarakhand – Corbett national park
O Madhya Pradesh – Bandhavgarh and Kanha national parks
O Chhattisgarh – Achanakmar and Barnwarapara wildlife sanctuaries
O Andaman Islands – various tourism locations especially South Andaman Island, Havelock and
Neil Islands

Created in 1955-56, it is the oldest National Park of India. It was one of the nine Tiger Reserves
created at the launch of the Project Tiger in 1973. Corbett National Park lies in two districts – Nainital
and Pauri. It covers an area of 521 sq. km and together with the neighbouring Sonanadi Wildlife
Sanctuary and Reserve Forest areas, forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve over 1,288 sq. km.23 The
original area of the Park was 323.75 sq. km. to which 197.07 sq. km. was added later. An area of
797.72 sq. km. was added as buffer of the Corbett Tiger Reserve in 1991. This area includes the
whole of Kalagarh Forest Division (including 301.18 sq. km. area of Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary),
96.70 sq. km. of Ramnagar Forest Division and 89 sq. km.24
Tourism is allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve.25 The main tourism areas in Corbett are
Dhikala, Jhirna, Bijrani, Sonanadi and Domunda. Only day visits in conducted safaris are allowed in the
tourism areas in vehicles approved by the Forest Department and accompanied by a Forest Department
trained and licensed guide. For night halts three tourist complexes located at Dhikala, Gairal and Bijrani
offer a choice of accommodation type. Dhikala has the maximum bed capacity including a dormitory.
Basic lodging is available for tourists at other Forest Rest Houses at Malani, Sultan, Gairal, Sarpduli,
Khinanauli, Kanda and Jhirna. Visitors can also stay at the Forest Rest Houses at Lohachaur, Rathuadhab,
Halduparao, Mundiapani, Morghatti, Sendhikhal and Dhela.26 Apart from these, there are many resorts,
lodges and hotels in Ramnagar and Dhikuli, which are on the border of the Park. The number of tourism
establishments in Dhikuli alone has been estimated as 49 along a stretch of 18 km.27
Corbett remains open to tourists from 15th November to 15th June. The main reason for closure of the
Park during the rest of the year is that during the monsoons most of the roads get washed away.
Repair work starts after the rains end and it is only by November that roads are back in motorable
condition.28 The number of visitors to Corbett in 2006-07 was 139,047, with 130,714 domestic tourists
and 8,333 foreign tourists.29

Key Tourism Issues

The Corbett National Park has been a heavily visited area for many years. This heavy influx of tourists
has led to visible stress signs on the natural ecosystem. Excessive trampling of soil due to tourist
pressure has led to reduction in plant species and has also resulted in reduced soil moisture. The
tourists have increasingly used fuel wood for cooking. This is a cause of concern as this fuel wood is
obtained from the nearby forests, resulting in greater pressure on the forest ecosystem of the park.30
Additionally, tourists have also caused problems by making noise, littering and causing disturbances
in general31.

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The development of private tourism resorts around Corbett began in early 1990s. The tourists
who came to Corbett earlier were the serious types but the profile of tourists has changed
considerably over the years. Now the tourists who come mainly from cities are not interested in
wildlife and nature, but rather want to only have a sighting of the tiger. The way tourism is
handled in Corbett gives an impression that Corbett belongs to the tourism industry. There is
also no proper interpretation centre for the tourists.
The [migratory] corridors around Corbett have been choked due to the coming up of the resorts.
This has led to an increase in human – animal conflict.
Villages around Corbett have been displaced by resorts and in many instances land belonging
to Scheduled Tribes has been purchased in connivance with the government.
There is lot of sewage that is being dumped in the Kosi River from the resorts. During weekends
and other holidays [when there is a surge of tourists] resorts play music loudly, which disturbs
the local people and the animals in the forest.
- Pers. Comm. with Ganesh Rawat, journalist, Ramnagar, 8th November 2008

Corbett receives around 3,000 visitors per day during the tourist season, but most of them do
not come to the bazaar and stay in the resorts. So where is the question of local people benefitting
from tourism? The only opportunities for local people are to run Gypsies (safari vehicles) inside
the Park and some of them get employed as guides.
Tourism in Corbett is very expensive and is beyond the reach of low budget tourists. Therefore,
facilities for low budget tourists should also be created. In this regard, home-stay facilities
could be created in Ramnagar by involving the local Panchayat. These could be marketed by
the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam.
There is serious issue of land around Corbett. While the norm in Uttarakhand is that people
from outside Uttarakhand cannot buy more than 100 sq m of land without the permission of the
District Magistrate and stating clear reasons; upto 100 sq m can be bought without permission;
there has been large scale transactions of land in Dhikuli, Marachula (near Ramganga River)
and Dhela. The cost of land has increased to Rs. 40,00,000 per bigha32 while it was only
around Rs. 50,000 per bigha ten years back.
The Government listens only to resort owners & not local people. To make a submission local
people have to make roads block, whereas government officials are sitting in resorts and
addressing their issues. No resort owner is interested in addressing over all development issues
of the area like education, transportation etc, from which they will also be benefitted. Similarly,
the Forest Development will hold discussion with resort owners and not with local traders
- Pers. Comm. with Prabhat Dhyani, Editor, Uttarakhand Prabhat Times,
Ramnagar, 8th November 2008

Human – animal conflict in Corbett has also been attributed to tourism when a woman was killed by a
tiger in Dhikuli on the periphery of the Corbett National Park. A media report states: “The tiger was
declared a maneater after it killed a woman who had entered the buffer zone of the reserve three days
ago. It has also attacked two people who were riding a motorbike. We have all options open to deal
with this now. It may be eliminated if it cannot be caught,” says Vinod Singhal, director, Corbett Tiger
Reserve. But the problem, he admits, is man-made. “This particular tiger did not tolerate the presence
of elephants (carrying tourists) and used to charge at them. He gradually lost his fear of humans.
Tourism around the park is a problem. Ideally, it has to be checked,” he says.33 The story is further

The Tourism Development Conundrum

corroborated by the woman Bhagwati Devi’s husband, B. C. Nainwal who says “It is the policies of the
government that made the tiger a victim of public ire ... The tiger was roaming near Dhikuli for four-five
months. The main reason was elephant safaris by resorts here. They are known to throw meat in front
of the tiger to increase the sighting of the big cat.”34

Madhya Pradesh
– Kanha National Park
Kanha is one of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries in India and is spread over Mandla and Balaghat
districts. It was declared as a reserve forest in 1879 and upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary in 1933. It
was declared as a National Park in 1955 and then declared as a tiger reserve in 1973. It covers an
area of 944 sq km, which forms the core zone of the Kanha Tiger Reserve; the surrounding area of
1,009 sq km is the buffer zone. The neighbouring 110 sq km Phen Wildlife Sanctuary forms micro-
core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve. Between 1969 and 1998, 27 villages were relocated from the core
zone of the Park.35
The Park is open to tourists from 1st October to 30th June, and it remains closed between the monsoon
months of July and September. There are two entry points to the Park namely Khatia and Mukki. Tourists
are allowed in two batches during morning and afternoon between 6.30 am – 10.30 am & 2.30 pm – 5.30
pm. Only light petrol and diesel vehicles with four-wheel drive manufactured in the last 5 years are
allowed inside the park.36 Each vehicle has to be accompanied by a Forest Department trained and
licensed guide. A total of 140 vehicles are allowed per day. Most of the vehicles are locally owned.
Accommodation is provided by both government and private establishments. While some government
lodges are located inside the Park, the private lodges are concentrated around the two entry points
namely Khatia and Mukki.37 The Forest Department puts the capacity of accommodation to 500 beds.
Kanha received 97,258 domestic tourists and 8,573 foreign tourists during the year 2007.38
– Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh has been an excellent habitat of tiger and is known for the highest density of tigers in
the world. The area of 105 sq km was notified in 1968 as a National Park. The remaining part of the
National Park i.e. 343.842 sq. km. is yet to be finally declared though State Government had made the
initial notification in 1982. Panpatha Sanctuary with an area of 245.847 sq. km. was declared in 1983.
Considering the importance of the National park, it was included in the Project Tiger Network in 1993.
The adjoining Panpatha Sanctuary too was declared as a part of the Reserve.39 It is located in the
Umaria District of Madhya Pradesh.
Like Kanha, the Park is open to tourists from 1st October to 30th June, and it remains closed between
the monsoon months of July and September. Tourism is restricted to 105 sq km of the Tala Range,
which amounts to 23.4% of park area. The tourism zone is divided into three zones and each zone
has limited vehicle entry. There are two entry points: Tala & Gohri gates in two batches during morning
and afternoon between 6.30 am – 10.30 am & 2.30 pm – 5.30 pm. Around 50 vehicles are allowed
inside the Park per day.40 Only light petrol and diesel vehicles with four-wheel drive manufactured in
the last 5 years are allowed inside the park41 and have to be accompanied by a Forest Department
trained and licensed guide. Most of the vehicles are owned by local people and resort owners.
Tourism started when craze for wildlife tourism increased. Initially in the 80’s visitors were fewer than
1,000 per year. The tourist arrivals picked up slowly. During 90’s the number rose to 2,000 and in the
last year (2007) the number of tourists increased to 60,000 per year. Of these, around 20,000 are
foreigners and rest domestic. The number of tourists during holidays and weekends is very high. Now
there is restriction to the tourist entry based on the carrying capacity study42. From January 2008, the
park has started online bookings for safaris. Bandhavgarh received 55,835 domestic tourists and
13,706 foreign tourists during the year 2007.43
Accommodation is available at the Forest Rest House run by the Forest Department and at White
Tiger Forest Lodge run by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.44 The private

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

establishments are located in the areas of Tala – Ranchha (4 resorts), Tala (15 resorts), Tala –
Bijheria (9 resorts) and Gohri Gate (1 resort).45 Additional six hotels were due for completion and
commencement of operations in 2009.46
Key Tourism Issues
The local people mainly get jobs as guides and safari vehicle drivers47. There are 57 guides and
around 80-90 safari vehicles in the village owned by local villagers and resorts. The guides are selected
from surrounding villages, which are about 166 villages in a periphery of about 5 km in the buffer
zone.48 The guides earn Rs.150 per day during the tourist season and the safari vehicle drivers earn
around Rs. 2,000 per month. The tourists give them a good amount as tips.49
In the hotels and resorts, they get jobs as helpers and room boys.50 Some of them get jobs in resorts
for cleaning and grass cutting. 51 The villagers also get jobs as labourers with the Forest Department
in activities like water hole management and fire protection.52 Sometimes resorts like the Taj53 and
other resorts conduct tribal dances wherein local people are paid around Rs. 700 – 1,000 for a
The primary occupation of local people is agriculture and in the tourism season people seek employment
in hotels and resorts. Therefore, the availability of people gets reduced in agriculture. The people work
for about of 15-20 days in the tourism season and their monthly incomes [during the tourism season]
have doubled on an average from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 4,000. This has led to availability of expendable
incomes with the local people, which they are now spending on consumption of alcohol. In the broader
socio-cultural context of the area, women more than men are engaged in labour (agriculture and other
work). However, none are employed in hotels except during the construction phase. Employment in
hotels is considered as a social taboo for women.55 Overall, most of the employment (managers, front
office staff, and waiters) is given to non-locals.56 The tourism establishments do not source materials
from the local markets.57 Hence there is very little benefit to the local economy.
Many tourism establishments use firewood as fuel for heating and cooking, and for organising camp
fires for the tourists.58 The firewood is collected from the forests by the local people who in turn sell it to
the establishments.59 As there are many tourism establishments still being built, there is a lot of demand
for mud-bricks. The kilns, where these mud-bricks are manufactured, use timber to fire the kilns and the
timber is extracted from the forests by local people.60 The construction of tourism establishment also
uses a lot of bamboo and bally (poles of young trees), which are extracted mainly from those forest
areas that are not within the national park.61 This has led to depletion in the vegetation cover of the area.
The existence of non-biodegradable solid wastes like plastic bags, covers, wrappers, bottles, tea
cups and glasses is posing a serious problem to the well being of the local environment. There have
even been deaths of domestic and wild animals due to consumption of plastic carry-bags62, which are
often disposed with left-over of food stuff inside them. The animals are attracted by the smell and
since they cannot take the food stuff of the carry bags, they consume the food stuff along with the
carry bags.

– Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary
The Achanakmar wildlife sanctuary was constituted in the year 1975 it comprises of 557.55 sq km.63
Most of the visitors are day tourists. There is a guest house that is run and managed by the CG Forest
An information / interpretation centre has been established beside a café, where photographs of the
forests, flora & fauna have been displayed. There is a resort named Jungle Resort, owned by Dr.
Anish Deshkar from Bilaspur that is inside the wildlife sanctuary. It has three rooms with 3, 4 and 6
beds respectively and is mostly used by Bengali tourists during the peak tourist season of October to
January. Visitation statistics to Achanakmar were not available with the authorities.

The Tourism Development Conundrum

– Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in northern part of Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh, Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary
is one of the finest and important wildlife sanctuaries in the region. Established in 1976 under
Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972, the sanctuary is relatively a small one covering an area of
only 245 sq km. 64
Barnawapara receives around 25,000 tourists during the year. Most tourists are day visitors. During
the Pushpunni mela (local festival held on 31 Jan every year), around 70,000 tourists come in personal
vehicles. The revenue generated from tourism in Barnawapara in 2007-08 was Rs. 15,60,000.65
About 40-45 local youth have been trained as guides and their fee is Rs. 60 / trip / hour. Their training
has been on introducing themselves and the PA; filtering food stuff, water bottles, packed material
and plastic bags; preventing tourists from getting down from the vehicles. The guides can explain a
little about birds and plants mostly in local names, but communicating with foreign tourists is difficult
as they don’t know English.66
Key Tourism Issues
The scale of tourism is very low as compared to other places like Kanha and Bandhavgarh national
parks. Therefore there are no substantial impacts of tourism in these wildlife sanctuaries. The presence
of a private resort inside the Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary is a matter of concern and it is a clear

Figure 2: View of Jungle Resort, Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary

Source: EQUATIONS, 2008

violation of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (see figure 2). However, the Chhattisgarh Forest Department,
in a bid to promote ecotourism, has constructed a luxurious resort in a forest area adjacent to the
Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, the case study of which has been described.
The Chhattisgarh Forest Department has completed construction of an “eco-resort” on the periphery
of the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary (see figure 3). The land belongs to Chhattisgarh Forest
Development Corporation. Total cost of construction is Rs. 2.16 crore. The resort has 6 cottages in 2
blocks and has a capacity of 24 beds, along with a reception centre, restaurant and staff quarters. The
resort is electrified by a 10KW solar unit, installed at a cost of Rs. 15 lakhs. The reason for opting solar
as the source of electricity was out of necessity as there is no other power supply to these areas. The
resort has been handed over to the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board for running and management. The
property is being considered for privatisation.67 The Chhattisgarh Tourism Board considers privatisation
through the PPP model (public-private partnership) as a good option. The main activity of the
Chhattisgarh Tourism Board is to create infrastructure and hand them over to private players to operate.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Figure 3: Views of Mohda Eco Resort, Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary

Source: EQUATIONS, 2008

The private players will accrue benefits and the State will be benefitted through collection of taxes.
The Board is also of the view that the government should not run hotels rather they should be more
involved in creating infrastructure and marketing destinations.68
The Mohda Eco Resort is located in a forest and on the banks of a lake, which are common property
resources. The diversion of forest land to a non-forest purpose can be challenged under the Forest
(Conservation) Act, 1980. While this project is a clear case of diversion of forest land for commercial
purposes, what is even more serious is its transfer to private parties. The common property resources
of the forest and water-source, which could have been used by the local people, have now been
segregated for the exclusive use and enjoyment of tourists.

Andaman Islands
The main tourism locations in the Andaman Islands are Port Blair, Wandoor, Ross Island, North Bay,
Mount Harriet, Chidiyatapu, Baratang, Diglipur, Havelock, Neil, Mayabunder, Rangat, and Jollybuoy,
Red Skin in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. The number of tourists who visited Andaman
Islands in 2006 were 1,18,648 domestic tourists and 9,051 foreign tourists.69 There is low seasonal
variation within the year for domestic tourists but the numbers are slightly higher in the months of
November, December and January. However, for the foreign tourists, there is high intra-year seasonality
with peak season being mid October – mid March.70
Key Tourism Issues
For most domestic tourists, the reason for choosing the Andamans as a holiday destination is the
leave travel concession (LTC) provided by the central government and for foreign tourists, it is the
past experiences and recommendations of other tourists. While the beaches and the pristine natural
beauty of the Andamans is a motivating factor for both domestic and foreign tourists, the latter also
come to Andamans for snorkeling and diving.
The main social issues of tourism in the Andamans are that there is some resentment about rise in
prices of essential goods, fruits, vegetables that the local people attribute to tourism. There is dissent
over attire of foreign tourists and fears of local youth aping western culture and values, lifestyle.
Tourism has given women some opportunities to enter economic activities although the industry still
tends to be dominated by men. Presently there is not too much evidence of child labour but this could
increase especially with increase in migrant labour. There is low evidence of tourism-linked prostitution

The Tourism Development Conundrum

currently in the Andamans, however fears exist that this is on the rise. Tourism-related crime is on the
rise in few Islands although these incidents have been sporadic and subject to varying interpretations.
Tourism related drug abuse and drug peddling is present in the Islands. By and large tourists, especially
women, perceive the Andamans as a safe destination (96.5% of domestic and 90.7% of foreign tourists
perceived the islands to be a safe destination).71
However, tourism’s impact on the indigenous tribes – the Jarawas – is a matter of serious concern as
there is continuing use of the Andaman Trunk Road despite the Supreme Court of India’s order in May
2002 to close it down in six months. Tour operators take tourists, especially domestic tourists, on
expectations of seeing ‘primitive, naked tribes’.72 The main concern is that the Jarawas do not have
immunity against many diseases like measles. Any contact with other people would mean increasing
their vulnerability to such diseases. For the Jarawa, each disease is an epidemic to which many have
lost their lives.
Tourism currently does not seem to play a significant role in terms of the Gross State Domestic
Product (GSDP) and employment, contrary to popular belief and policy positioning. Despite significant
increase in tourist arrivals over last 2 decades, contribution of sector to GSDP has stagnated at 8%
due to low local expenditure by tourists. Revenue generation from tourism is low and accounts for
only 1.4% of total revenue receipts. Employment in the tourism sector is less than 1.5% of total main
workforce of the Islands and a substantial percent of the workforce does not get secure employment
in tourism. The tendency is to recruit skilled labour from Port Blair or mainland. The local workforce
employed is only in low-skill and seasonal kind of jobs. There is evidence of local entrepreneurship in
tourism – 50% of accommodation units within Port Blair and in other Islands are owned by locals.
Tourism has created some jobs in the ancillary industry - taxi, auto drivers, shop owners, guides, but
these are of a seasonal nature.73
But what are more alarming are the environmental impacts of tourism in the Andamans. There is
already a strain of other development activities and population pressure on natural resources of
Andamans and its biodiversity. Tourism, which is largely unregulated and unplanned, has led to
increased pressure on fresh water availability. The tourism infrastructure is inconsistent with the
ecological setting and is very energy intensive. There is a serious problem of waste disposal and

Figure 4: One of the Many Solid Waste Dumping Sites in Havelock Island,
Andaman Islands (Note the High Content of Non-biodegradable
Solid Wastes Like Plastic Bags, Covers, Wrappers and Bottles)

Source: EQUATIONS, 2007

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

pollution from solid wastes: the sewage is disposed directly into the sea and the solid wastes are
allowed to accumulate, then burnt (see figure 4). Land based development activities and tourist activities
like snorkeling have had an impact on the coral reefs. The former has led to sedimentation that has
choked the corals (as they are filter feeders) and the latter due to physical damage. Important regulations
like the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991 and environmental impact assessments have not
been implemented and tourism has violated them consistently. There has also been poor
implementation of Orders of the Supreme Court based on the Shekhar Singh Commission Report.
These impacts are critical to be taken note of seriously in the context of the impacts from climate
change wherein Islands are the most vulnerable. 74

4. Common Tourism Issues in the States

Regulating Tourism Growth Around PAs
The growing number of tourism establishments on the boundaries of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries
is a matter of concern. While the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 does allow tourists into Protected Areas, it
clearly disallows private, commercial establishments to be located inside. Presently, there is no regulation
or control on the number of tourism establishments coming up on the peripheries of Protected Areas.75
The Indian Board for Wildlife, the apex advisory body in the field of wildlife conservation in the country, in
its XXI meeting in January 2002 resolved that “lands falling within 10 km of the boundaries of National
Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries should be notified as eco-fragile zones under section 3(v) of the Environment
(Protection) Act and Rule 5 Sub-rule 5(viii) & (x) of the Environment (Protection) Rules”. Despite this, a
rash of tourism establishments are found cheek by jowl in the immediate periphery of every Protected
Area of repute like Corbett, Bandhavgarh, Kanha. Newer Protected Areas like Barnawapara Wildlife
Sanctuary have also begun to see tourism establishments coming up on their peripheries.
The Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) has also come up with scheme to
boost private investment for tourism development around Protected Areas. The scheme seeks to
invite investment for building hotels, resorts, entertainment centres, golf courses etc in “chosen locations
that have immense potential and investor-friendly politico-administrative environment”.76
The MPTDC will facilitate land acquisition for private investors. They have stated that a land bank has
been created by identifying pieces of land spread over eleven districts of the State namely Jabalpur,
Umariya, Chhattarpur, Dhar, Indore, Tikamgarh, Ujjain, Bhopal, Panna, Seoni and Narsinghpur. Specific
areas have been identified within these districts from which pieces of land will be leased out for 90
years on freehold or public-private partnership basis. The MPTDC has identified land for creating
banks around the Bandhavgarh National Park in Umariya district for construction of resorts and
recreation centres. Land for construction of resorts and hotels is also available within 10 km distance
of the Panna Tiger Reserve at various locations in Janwar, Jardhowa Tara, Sakeria, Amjhiriya and
similarly at Seoni which is 9 km from Pench National Park. It intends to build world-class infrastructure
around national parks and sanctuaries for attracting high end tourists. The investment scheme seeks
to boost tourism infrastructure development as close as possible to national parks and wildlife
sanctuaries. Schemes such as these do not take into account the impacts of tourism development on
the boundaries of Protected Areas.
Protected Areas do not have physical boundaries such as fences. The surrounding areas of Protected
Areas have many different land uses ranging from forests, agriculture land or fallow land (agriculture
land that has been left uncultivated), to human settlements and even intensive activities like mining.
In the case of Protected Areas discussed above, land use is mostly forests and agriculture, fallow
land. These areas are used by wildlife for various purposes like finding food and water in other areas
when there is less available inside the Protected Areas and periodic migration. When the population
of species increases inside the Protected Areas, the animals have the ability to spread to the surrounding
areas, or use the corridors to move to other habitats.

The Tourism Development Conundrum

The development of tourism establishments around Protected Areas hinders the use of surrounding areas
and also blocks the movement of animals to other forest or protected areas through the corridors.77 The
animals are then forced to enter human habitations thereby increasing the possibility of human-animal
conflicts. These conflicts have lead to damage and loss of property as well as human and animal lives.
The other problems are of habitat loss and fragmentation due to infrastructure developments like
constructions of roads.78 The location and numbers of resorts crowding on the periphery of the Park
has become such a severe problem in Corbett that the local people are considering filing a Public
Interest Litigation on this issue.79

Disregard for Provisions of the Constitution (Seventy Third) Amendment Act, 1992
The Constitution (Seventy Third) Amendment Act, 1992 (also known as the 73rd Amendment) requires
a three tier system of Panchayati Raj Institutions to be constituted for decentralisation and devolution
of powers from the Centre to the grassroots in order to enable these bodies to function as institutions
of local self government. The 73rd Amendment further requires the Legislatures of all Indian States to
delegate decision making powers on issues specified under Schedule XI of the Indian Constitution to
the Panchayats to enable them to plan and implement schemes for their social and economic
development on, among others, land improvement, land reforms and maintenance of community
assets80. The panchayats have also been given the powers as institutions of local self government to
decide on the kind of development that they would like in their areas of jurisdiction. They have also
been empowered to impose taxes, tolls and duties through a law by the state legislature.
The panchayats are not consulted when tourism projects or plans are prepared by the governments,
private investors or companies. The panchayats get to know about the project or plans at the
implementation stage only after all clearances have been given by various other departments. Whereas
clearances on power, water supply and sewage are given by the electricity department and public
works department respectively, the issue of land allocation and conversion if any is done at the District
Collector’s level and the panchayats have no say in land matters. The role of the panchayats is then
reduced to a formality81 when a letter of intent is written to the panchayats for specifying purpose of
land-use82 and a ‘No Objection Certificate’ is requested from the panchayats. At this stage, the
panchayats do not refuse because clearances have already been given by other departments.

“There is no dialogue with local panchayats and departments take decisions unilaterally on any
kind of developmental activity. No body is informed of any projects that they [government or
industry] make … When the tourist resort [ecotourism venture of the Chhattisgarh Forest
Department] was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on 26 July 2008, there were no discussions
with the local people; in fact the local people were prevented from meeting the CM. At least the
main people of the village could have been invited but even that was not done. Ironically the
theme of the inauguration programme was ‘handing over to people’ and the people were not
invited. The CM had come with nearly 20 other cabinet ministers. It would have been appropriate
if they had visited a few villages and inquired about their conditions … There are many tourism
resorts that have come up on the periphery [of the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary] and the
permission is given by the Chhattisgarh Forest Department. [That is because] The land is
owned by government”.
- Mr. Niranjan, Panchayat Pradhan, Loridkhar Village, Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary,
“The role of the panchayats is a formality … With respect to land, all matters are done at the
Registrar’s level and there is no role for the panchayats”.
- Mr. Rajesh Singh, Sarpanch, Tala Village Panchayat, Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh84.

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“I am not looking at large scale tourism and do not want cement construction and very big
resorts coming into Neil. The Panchayat needs to be careful that their land is not sold out to
industrialists from outside. The Panchayat is helpless regarding plans to develop tourism in the
Island. There are not enough funds to maintain cleanliness on the beaches. The Administration
has to provide the funds or take over maintenance”
- Ram Krishna Biswas, Pradhan, Neil Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands85

The case of Kanha National Park is of special relevance to the issue of implementing the 73rd
Amendment because it falls in the category Schedule V Areas. Article 244 of the Constitution of India
through its Schedule V provides protection to the indigenous peoples living in the Scheduled Areas
and gives them the right to self rule. It disallows the transfer of indigenous peoples’ lands to non-
indigenous peoples. The 73rd Amendment is applicable in Schedule V Areas through the Panchayat
Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 to improve the system of participatory governance
in the Scheduled Areas. The Constitution of India through the Schedule V along with the Panchayat
(Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) re-enforces the rights of the indigenous peoples to
territorial integrity and to decide on their own path of development. Within a year of passing of this
Act, i.e. by 24 December 1997, all the states with Scheduled Areas were to amend their existing
Panchayati Raj Acts and incorporate the PESA provisions. The PESA Act in recognition of the traditional
and customary laws of the tribal areas mandates the gram sabhas to:86
O Approve the village’s plans & projects for social and economic development before they are
implemented by the Gram Panchayat.
O Identify beneficiaries for poverty alleviation programmes.
O Give certification for utilization of funds by the panchayat for the mandated activities, thus making
the gram sabha a powerful instrument in socio economic development of the tribals.
O The gram sabha or panchayat at the appropriate level has to be consulted before any land acquisition
is done for development projects in Scheduled Areas or before rehabilitation of project affected
families is undertaken.

Figure 5: Location of Kanha National Park in Schedule V Areas of Madhya Pradesh

Source: www.indiabiodiversity.org

The Tourism Development Conundrum

The Kanha National Park is spread over two tehsils namely Bichhiya Tehsil in Mandla District and
Baihar Tehsil in Balaghat District (see figure 5). The entire district of Mandla and Baihar Tehsil are under
Schedule V status. Tourism development in and around Kanha National Park is a case that exemplifies
the violation of the Constitutional provisions in Schedule V Areas. What has been observed in the case
of Kanha National Park is a growing number of private, tourism establishments that are added every
year. Both at the Khatia gate and Mukki gate, there are nearly 70 tourism establishments and distributed
roughly as: 40 near the former and 30 near the latter. Land is continuously being sold locally and is being
bought over by investors to build tourism establishments like hotels, resorts and lodges.
The figure above shows an advertisement for sale of land claiming it is in a general category (meaning
it is not in a Schedule V Area). However, a Central Government Order87 issued by the Ministry of Law
and Justice88 clearly states that the whole of Mandla District and Baihar Tehsil in Balaghat District are
Scheduled V Areas. Therefore, the claim that the land on sale is general category or non-Schedule V
land is false. It is likely that most land transactions relating to tourism establishments around Kanha
National Park are unconstitutional and illegal. But this continues quite brazenly.
Additionally, the Chhattisgarh Government is providing incentives to investors for establishment and
expansion of tourism units and infrastructure for economic development and employment generation. In
this Incentives Scheme the government is also inviting tourism units to be established in Schedule V
Areas namely Kanker, Dantewara, Koria, Surguja and Jaspur Districts. Under this scheme tourism
projects will be given “quick approval” by a High Level Committee who will “remove all obstacles to
tourism initiatives”. 89 The Chhattisgarh Government is providing 100% tax exemption for establishment
of tourism units in Schedule V Areas. Though land transfer is not allowed, the Chhattisgarh Tourism
Board offers a 50% exemption on land premium to investors for new tourism projects as well as simplifying
the process of land allocation to investors, which has been diverted for tourism; creation of land banks
by identification of Nazul land90 which will be transferred to the tourism department for leasing it out to
developers for 33 years. Similarly tourism infrastructure projects are being encouraged into Scheduled
Areas by giving them a 15% subsidy on capital investment with a cap of Rs. 20 lakhs.91 The Tribal
Advisory Councils that represent interests of the resident tribal population has no role in tourism
development in their areas. None of these are permissible in Scheduled Areas and the spirit of privileging
tribal rights and autonomy – which is the basis on which the state was formed – seems to have been
discarded quite summarily by those who are supposed to protect and ensure these very rights!

5. Conclusion
Tourism is being actively pursued by the state governments and tourism industry. The natural areas
with their aesthetically appealing landscapes and attractions such as wildlife are the important products
for tourism. This form of nature based tourism is often used interchangeably with attractive terms
such as ecotourism and wildlife tourism.
Ecotourism is presented and positioned as leading to conservation and benefits to local people. In
reality however the operating paradigm is to make it private investment led and through privatisation
of resources. The tourism policies of Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andaman
Islands are examples of this kind of ecotourism development.
Tourism in Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andaman Islands has disregarded
Constitutional provisions. It has disregarded the rights of the panchayats by keeping them out of
decision making spaces and taking control over resources such as land thereby contravening the 73rd
Constitutional Amendment. It has also usurped common property resources that are important for the
sustenance and livelihoods of indigenous and local communities. Therefore its claims of conserving
the environment and benefitting indigenous and local communities are hollow and have not been met.
Moreover, tourism is currently being pushed into areas where indigenous and local communities have
been struggling for basic rights such as land, autonomy and access to resources on which their
livelihoods are dependent. In places like Kanha, tourism development has taken place in contravention
to the Constitutional provisions of Schedule Areas.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

While the claims of tourism to conserve environment and benefit local people have not materialised,
it continues to be pushed into newer areas on hollow promise and claim of its immense potential to
create employment and consequently alleviate poverty. However the costs of tourism on local
resources, livelihoods, environment, culture, women and children are not taken into account. In the
absence of local participation and decision making over tourism projects and the governments’
apathy to local grievances and development needs, an atmosphere of distrust, fear and conflict has
begun to take place. Tourism is thus turning out to be like any other activity that gives benefits to a
few at the cost of many.
Given its poor record, there is no justification for governments to privilege the promotion of tourism
over peoples’ rights. The Constitutional provisions of the 73rd Amendment, Schedule V Areas and
PESA Act need to be fully implemented and enforced while planning tourism development in
these areas.

Scheduled Areas mean “… such areas as the President may by order declare to be scheduled areas”. Scheduled Areas
have a predominantly tribal population and provide autonomy to the tribal areas. Central and State laws are not automatically
applicable to the Schedule Areas. With respect to land in these areas, the Constitution lays down in Article 244(1) Part B
Section 5 (2) that the governor has the power to make regulations that may prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or
among members of the Scheduled Tribes to non-tribals, and also regulate allotment of land to members of the Scheduled
Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, http://www.gmvnl.com/newgmvn/facts/index.aspx data retrieved April 2009.
Rawat, 1999, “The People of Uttarakhand”, http://uttarakhand.prayaga.org/info4.html data retrieved April 2009.
http://www.mpinfo.org/mpinfonew/english/factfile/mp.asp data retrieved April 2009.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, http://mpforest.org//forest.html data retrieved April 2009.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, http://mpforest.org//wildlife.html data retrieved April 2009.
Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, http://www.mptourism.com/tourpol.html data retrieved April 2009.
http://www.trdi.mp.gov.in/statistics.asp data retrieved April 2009.
Government of Madhya Pradesh, http://www.mp.gov.in/tribal/Tri.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Chhattisgarh Forest Department, http://cgforest.nic.in/about_chhattisgarh.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Chhattisgarh Forest Department, http://cgforest.nic.in/forestresources.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Chhattisgarh Forest Department, http://cgforest.nic.in/livingwithwildlife.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Government of Chhattisgarh, http://www.chhattisgarh.gov.in/tourism/tourism1.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Government of Chhattisgarh,http://www.chhattisgarh.gov.in/profile/corigin.htm#seed data retrieved April 2009.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands Administration, http://www.and.nic.in/Know%20Andaman/Intro1.htm data retrieved April 2009.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008, p 16.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008, p 18.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008, p 21-22.
Stated by a participant from the Baiga tribe at a consultation “Tourism Development in Chhattisgarh: Threats and Challenges”
on 25-26 January 2007, organised by Nadi Ghati Morcha and EQUATIONS.
http://www.corbettnationalpark.in/page_ctr_revealed.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Project Tiger – Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, http://projecttiger.nic.in/corbett.htm data retrieved
April 2009.
http://www.corbettnationalpark.in/page_visit_ctr.htm data retrieved April 2009.
http://www.corbettnationalpark.in/page_visit_ctr.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Information shared by participants at a Consultation on Tourism Issues in Uttarakhand organised by EQUATIONS at
Ramanagar on 8 February 2009.
http://www.corbettnationalpark.in/page_visit_ctr.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Uttarakhand Forest Department, 2007, Uttarakhand Forest Statistics, Government of Uttarakhand, Dehradun, p 83.

The Tourism Development Conundrum

Tiwari, P. C. & Joshi, Bhagwati (Eds.), 1997, “Wildlife in the Himalayan Foothills: Conservation and Management”, Indus
Publishing Company, p 309.
Ibid, p 311.
1 bigha = 43,200 sq ft, which is a little less than an acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft); therefore 1 bigha = 4,017.6 sq m (@ 1 sq
ft = 0.093 sq m).
Sinha, N, Feb 2009, “Tiger declared maneater in Corbett, forest dept blames tourist pressure”, Indian Express, New Delhi
(http://www.indianexpress.com/news/tiger-declared-maneater-in-corbett-forest-dept-blames-tourist-pressur.../420907) data
retrieved April 2009.
Kaur, R, 2009, “Unlikely Maneaters” Down to Earth, Centre for Science & Environment, Delhi.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, http://mpforest.org/Intranet/kanha/index.html data retrieved April 2009.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, http://mpforest.org/Intranet/kanha/index.html data retrieved April 2009.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, http://mpforest.org/Intranet/kanha/index.html data retrieved April 2009.
Tourist arrivals statistics obtained from MPTDC.
Project Tiger – Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, http://projecttiger.nic.in/bandhavgarh.htm data
retrieved April 2009.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Asim Srivastav, Field Director, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, at Tala on 30 January 2008.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, http://mpforest.org/bandhavgarh.html#BANDHAVGARH data retrieved April 2009.
The Carrying Capacity that the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department has adopted is limited only to the number of safari
vehicles that are allowed inside the Protected Areas. The concept does not apply to any other tourism activity like number
of establishments around the Protected Area. Carrying Capacity has been calculated based on the principle:
Physical Carrying Capacity = No. of persons/unit area which is equivalent to No. of vehicles/unit length
Calculation of number of vehicles have been done based on the following conditions:
1. At least there should be a gap of 500m between two vehicles. ie. Within 1 km, there can be 2 vehicles.
2. Roads prone to moderate erosion (dusty), reduce the number such that one vehicle is allowed within 1 km.
3. Roads prone to heavy erosion, (slopes), reduce the number such that one vehicle is allowed within 2 km.
4. In sensitive areas (breeding period/endangered species), one vehicle will be allowed per km.
5. Management efficiency of the park officials: 40%.
E.g.: Let us take total length of the road to be 125 km.
As per condition 1, total vehicles allowed 125x 2 = 250 nos.
Roads prone to moderate erosion be 20 km.
Applying condition 2, no. of vehicles allowed = 20x1 = 20 nos.; reduction = (20x2) -20 = 20 nos.
Roads prone to heavy erosion be 10 km.
Applying condition 3, no. of vehicles allowed = 10x1/2 = 5 nos.; reduction = (10x2) – 5 = 15 nos.
Roads within sensitive habitat be 50 km.
Vehicles allowed = 50 nos.
Total reduction = (50x2) – 50 = 50 nos.
Total vehicles allowed in 125 km stretch after reductions = 250 – 20 – 15 – 50 = 165.
Efficiency of the forest staff = 40%.
Therefore total number of vehicles that can be allowed = 165x40/100 = 66 nos.
Source: Pers. Comm. with Dr. P. B. Gangaopadhyay, Chief Wild Life Warden, Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, on
1 February 2008.
Tourist arrivals statistics obtained from MPTDC.
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, http://mpforest.org/bandhavgarh.html data retrieved April 2009.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Satyendra Tiwari, Skays Camp, Tala on 19 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. K L Patel, Manager, White Tiger Forest Lodge, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation,
on 31 January 2008.
The most popular safari vehicles are the Maruti – Suzuki manufactured Gypsy model, which is a four wheel drive SUV.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Asim Srivastav, Field Director, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, at Tala on 30 January 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Dr. Deepak Patel, Jungle Tours & Travels at Tala on 31 January 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. K L Patel, Manager, White Tiger Forest Lodge, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation,
on 31 January 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Dr. Deepak Patel, Jungle Tours & Travels at Tala on 31 January 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Asim Srivastav, Field Director, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, at Tala on 30 January 2008.
The property is Mahua Kothi and is a joint venture between Taj Hotels Resort and Palaces and &Beyond.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Pers. Comm. with Dr. Deepak Patel, Jungle Tours & Travels at Tala on 31 January 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Rajesh Singh, Sarpanch, Tala Gram Panchayat on 18 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Satyendra Tiwari, Skays Camp, Tala on 19 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Rajesh Singh, Sarpanch, Tala Gram Panchayat on 18 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Satyendra Tiwari, Skays Camp, Tala on 19 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. K L Patel, Manager, White Tiger Forest Lodge, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation,
on 31 January 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Satyendra Tiwari, Skays Camp, Tala on 19 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Satyendra Tiwari, Skays Camp, Tala on 19 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Rajesh Singh, Sarpanch, Tala Gram Panchayat on 18 September 2008.
Chhattisgarh Forest Department, http://cgforest.nic.in/nature_tourism.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Chhattisgarh Forest Department, http://cgforest.nic.in/nature_tourism.htm data retrieved April 2009.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. R. K. Sinha, RFO Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, on 13 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. R. K. Sinha, RFO Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, on 13 September 2008.
Information given by Chhattisgarh Forest Department staff at the site on 13 September 2008.
Interview with Managing Director (Marketing), Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, Raipur on 12 September 2008.
Department of Information, Publicity and Tourism, Andaman & Nicobar Islands Administration, 2006.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008.
EQUATIONS et al, 2008.
Government of India, 2005, “Joining the Dots”- Report of the Tiger Task Force, Ministry of Environment & Forests, New
Delhi, p 134.
Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation, “Investment Opportunities In Tourism Sector of Madhya
Pradesh”, 1998-2007, http://www.mptourism.com/MPTPDF.pdf, retrieved on March 2009.
Pers. Comm. with Dr. H. S. Pabla, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Madhya Pradesh Forest
Department, on 8 October 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Dr. H. S. Pabla, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Madhya Pradesh Forest
Department, on 8 October 2008.
Shared by participants at a Consultation on Tourism Issues in Uttarakhand organised by EQUATIONS at Ramanagar on
8 February 2009.
Land improvement, implementation of land reforms, land consolidation and soil conservation (point no. 2 of the XI Schedule
of the Constitution of India).The panchayats also have right to take decision on social forestry, farm forestry and minor
forest produce; fuel and fodder; construction of roads, culverts, bridges, ferries, waterways and other means of
communication in the panchayat.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Rajesh Singh, Sarpanch, Tala Gram Panchayat on 18 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Satyendra Tiwari, Skays Camp, Tala on 19 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Niranjan, Panchayat Pradhan, Loridkhar Village on 13 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Rajesh Singh, Sarpanch, Tala Gram Panchayat on 18 September 2008.
Pers. Comm. with Mr. Ram Krishna Biswas, Pradhan, Neil Island, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, July 2007.
Legal aid system on local governance, 2004, http://www.laslg.org data retrieved March 2009.
No. C.O.192: The Scheduled Areas (States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh) Order, 2003 dated New
Delhi, the 29th February, 2003.
(Legislative Department) Notification G.S.R. 114 (E), Tribal Research and Development Institute, http://www.trdi.mp.gov.in/
tribalZone.asp data retrieved March 2009.
http://www.chhattisgarhtourism.net/download/Incentive%20Scheme%202006.pdf, data retrieved March 2009.
Nazul land is the land which is given on lease by the municipal authorities to private persons for non-agricultural purposes.
This type of land being barren, no agricultural activity is possible on it. http://ncm.nic.in/major_iniative.html
http://www.chhattisgarhtourism.net/download/Incentive%20Scheme%202006.pdf, data retrieved March 2009.

Women Speak!
Women’s Engagement with Community Based and
Nature Based Tourism
July 2009

Tourism has always had a link with women. Mass tourism claims that it employs more women than
men and women are often seen as the face of tourism, quite literally, as they appear in travel
brochures as the ubiquitous image of warmth, welcome and hospitality.
When understanding tourism growth in natural resource rich areas we have been particularly interested
in understanding how the growth of tourism engaged, impacted, helped or hindered women. To what
extent did tourism actually provide opportunities for empowerment? To what extent did it change
stereotypes and gender injustices? Were women able to break the shackles of religious or social
prescriptions related to their role and relative power by engaging in tourism as compared to more
traditional roles and settings? What was the nature of women’s participation in tourism? To what
extent did they influence decision making and the nature of tourism? Did they gain – economically,
socially, and politically? Have they been able to challenge patriarchal structures and demand equal
participation and benefits from tourism? How did tourism impact their lives? What are their concerns
& dilemmas and in what ways have they engaged or wish to engage with tourism?
To explore these questions, we have attempted to gather together and amplify the voices of women in
different spaces which we heard in the course of our interactions with communities engaging with tourism.
To do this we present case studies of nature based (and in most cases community based) tourism and
examined it through a gendered lens. The observations and insights are derived from more general
contexts and were not specific to research addressing gender issues.

Mountain Shepherds Initiative, Uttarakhand1

Mountain Shepherds Initiative (MSI) is a community owned and operated ecotourism initiative based
in Uttarakhand. It attempts to engage with the local communities and their youth to harness the potential
of tourism in the larger interest of the local community. The initiative is a result of the long struggle of
communities in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve for control over land, forests and natural resources.
MSI works with vision of developing a model for tourism that is sustainable and defined by the local
and indigenous communities residing in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. The MSI has trained
local youth in mountaineering and trekking, instructions and mountain search and rescue for taking
tourists groups on expedition. Another tourism component of MSI is the homestays that they provide
to tourists in collaboration with local communities in areas like Lata and Tolma.
“The Mountain Shepherds story begins in Lata, a village situated in the Niti Valley. The people of the
Niti Valley belong to an Indo-Tibetan ethnic group known as the Bhotiya. Those in the Niti Valley
belong to the Marchha and Tolcha groups and have traditionally gained a livelihood as transhumant
shepherds, traders, or farmers. In the 1970s, Bhotiya communities were at the forefront of the famous
Chipko movement2 that saw village women led by Gaura Devi to save their forests. From 1998 to the
present, they have persisted in their efforts to regain access rights to the Nanda Devi National Park.
With the creation of Uttarakhand state and its emphasis on the tourism sector, this movement gave
birth to the Nanda Devi Campaign in Lata village. Sparked by the urgent need to ensure local control
of the tourist trade, the campaign issued the progressive 2001 Nanda Devi Biodiversity Conservation

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and Eco Tourism Declaration to guide its future. In 2003, the Indian government made a major revision
to the park rules that had strictly governed the Nanda Devi protected area for over twenty years. A
partial reopening began allowing 500 visitors to enter a small segment of the park’s core zone every
year, although the peak itself would remain off limits.”
MSI was formerly inaugurated in 2006 in the vicinity of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. It is
located both in the context of a wider social and environmental struggle. A 2006 Inaugural Women’s
Trek marked their first foray into the tourism business, attempting the challenging task of establishing
a community-owned operation in keeping with its aspirations for a future without human exploitation
and environmental degradation3.”
Women’s participation in the tourism initiative of MSI is largely prescribed by social norms - the roles
that women are allowed to participate in are decided by the community first and then their family. Therefore
women’s participation in tourism is not only gendered but also decided primarily by the family and
community and this is accepted by women. The participation of girls in tourism is at a very nascent stage
in Lata village, and it is too early to say if this will enhance women’s participation in decision making
within the family and the community in the future. Though girls are being trained in mountaineering it has
not meant that families are sending their daughters on regular expeditions. The family and community
has clearly different norms about what ways the daughters participate in tourism as compared to the
freer hand that sons have to decide if they would like to be involved in the tourism project of the MSI.
Apart from their traditional roles of carers within the family and thus caring for the visitors, this community
based initiative also relies on women’s traditional skills in carpet weaving. Thus traditional knowledge
and skills are the basis for including women into the tourism loop. Most tourism initiatives often end up
employing women in areas where they need least additional training and can leverage on socially
prescribed or traditional knowledge and skills such as care giving. In the MSI case, on the contrary
though women are not primarily involved in looking after the guests since the youth trained by the MSI
cater to the tourists, the payment for using the homestays by tourists is handed over to the landlady
(i.e the women). With a range of Rs. 150- 250 per day in Tolma and Lata respectively going to women
directly it is a positive move that acknowledges their contribution (for the use of the place as well as
the labour in keeping it clean and providing bedding for tourists). To some extent it also recognises
the time intensive nature of women’s work who being involved in agricultural activities are less likely
to have the time to engage with tourists.

Figure 1: Bhotiya Women Weaving Mats & Carpets, Lata Village, Uttarakhand

Source: EQUATIONS, 2008

Women Speak!

Women are also involved in the production of souvenirs during the winter months (Figure 1). They
produce smaller hand woven mats for yoga or meditation purposes. Tourism provides a market for
their produce and thus an alternate income particularly to those households that are not providing
homestays or involved in any other ways in tourism. It is an attempt to provide tourists with local
souvenirs; relying on their traditional knowledge of weaving and knitting and by enhancing their skills
through the introduction of vegetable dyes.
The MSI being community based has a stronger element of community support when compared to
many other tourism initiatives that are introduced without much local participation.
The greater participation of men in tourism activities such as trekking and mountaineering which
includes working as instructors, search and rescue volunteers, cooks and guide for tourists groups
has also meant a diversion of responsibilities in agriculture work earlier handled by men to women.
The women are loaded with the usual household responsibilities and in addition because the men are
away the entire load of caring for children, collection of fuel wood, fodder and water take them in the
hilly terrain.
Further more, the peak harvesting season is also the main tourism season and this has resulted in
men being away for tourism linked activities leaving the women to shoulder a greater (physical) workload
at this time. It is interesting that this incursion of women into men’s traditional (gendered) areas is not
objected to by the community, but they are more unwilling to “allow” the women to engage in activity
which is more externally-oriented.
Sunil Kainthola who coordinates MSI in Dehradun shared a story of one of the MSI youth Raju whose
mother told him in a “friendly” manner: “You have taken my husband with you, you have also taken
away my two sons into tourism. Now it will rain any moment. Our grain will get spoilt unless we
harvest it. Then what will we eat? There is no one to work with me – so now you come with me to the
village and work with me.”
Thus women’s additional load directly and indirectly because of tourism ends up fetching them very
little direct economic benefit – in the form of additional earnings– but loads them with additional work
– all of which is neither measured, valued nor compensated for in economic terms.
From another perspective given the exploitative nature of tourism with respect to the commodification
of women and abuse, the community at Lata has taken into account the risks that women are likely to
face when tourism makes inroads into their spaces. The community (both men and women) who
decide the norms then become the buffer to decide which roles it would like to see its women in, given
their knowledge and skills. The Bhotiya women were at the leadership of the Chipko movement in
asserting their rights to natural resources. Whether this assertion has translated to their choice of
ways of income generation is not very clear or evident yet. Some families have allowed the daughters
to be trained in mountaineering and related courses but tourism led business activities is new for the
communities and may also explains the absence of women in business activities.
With the MSI core competence and product being adventure tourism in the Himalayas the organisation
has greater involvement of boys and less of girls. In certain areas like Uttarakashi women like Bachendri
Pal4 are role models for women taking up training in mountaineering and instructorship. While girls
are being encouraged to train in becoming instructors it is a physically demanding role and this aspect
seems to draw more boys. Beginning with training provided by the forest department in 2004 and that
provided by MSI in 2006, girls have gone on three treks since 2006 with exclusive women’s groups as
well as in mixed groups (of boys and girls) with tourists.
MSI has also taken a firm stand on guiding the community about the roles where women may have
opportunity but increased vulnerability to exploitation by tourists. It has created a space for discussing
about what roles women would be comfortable in taking up rather than just going by the demand of
the tourism industry which can be exploitative when unchecked. The opportunity to train girls in
mountaineering was a step forward, but the decision was that girls would accompany women only

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groups. This was seen as a via media between the complexity of developing spaces for women to
participate in tourism, recognising the risks in terms of sexual harassment they may face from male
tourists while accompanying them on treks and balancing this risk, with the desire to build their capacity
for leadership and management roles that have not been socially encouraged so far. In the future MSI
foresees the participation of women in souvenirs, exclusive as well as mixed trekking groups, as
instructors after they complete their Method of Instruction and in managerial roles.

Andamans and Nicobar Islands

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A&NI) are a group of picturesque islands and islets lying along a
long and narrow arc in the south-eastern part of the Bay of Bengal. While relatively isolated until the
early twentieth century, these islands of breathtaking natural beauty gained slowly in popularity as a
tourist destination. As in many other parts of the country, tourism has been identified a priority sector
for development in the Islands, particularly the Andamans. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands harbour
a rich biodiversity with high endemicity, making them an internationally acknowledged hotspot for
biodiversity. Large areas of coral reefs, which hold significance as the last pristine reefs in the Indian
Ocean, lie outside protected areas, with very little protection efforts going into them. The mangroves
are also known for their diversity of various marine organisms. Over the years, the swampy areas in
lowland evergreen forests have been almost totally destroyed by conversion to agriculture and open
swamps have also been drained in a number of places, making this an increasingly rare habitat. It is
clear that any further ecological degradation will have an adverse impact not only on the unique
biodiversity of its fragile coastal ecosystems but also on coastal fisheries and tourism.
The Andaman Islands are home to four indigenous tribes: The Great Andamanese; the Onge, who
inhabit the Little Andaman Island; the Sentinelese, who have long inhabited North Sentinel Island and
the Jarawas, in the interior and west coast of South and Middle Andaman. During the British colonisation,
house sites and agricultural lands were allotted to “convicts” who had been jailed at the Cellular Jail.
In 1925, around 45 Karen families from Burma were brought to clear the forest. Between 1947 and
1971, as part of a policy move of the Indian Government to meet labour requirements in the Islands,
people from then East Pakistan, West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar were
settled in the Islands. Post 1970s, the A&NI have seen an unplanned influx of people from Tamil
Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, whereby the annual growth rate of this influx has far exceeded the
average decadal growth of population in the Islands (approximately 4.8% p.a). Settlement and
thoughtless “civilisation” attempts have lead to the decimation of the original tribal people and they
are confined to reserves with uneasy relationships with the settlers. Among those who came in, the
diverse profile and stakeholding has led to some tensions raising the issue ‘who belongs to the Islands
and who does not’.
While the islands have witnessed a steady growth in tourist numbers along with the steady push of
the A&NI administration to being the tourists back to the islands post Tsunami in 2004 has led to an
increase in the number of proposals for intensive tourism development particularly in the Andaman
Islands. This includes huge investment in infrastructure, improved connectivity and concessions on
LTC for domestic tourists. However, these plans, like earlier ones, are not based on how tourism
operates in and impacts the Islands, and do not consider whether ground realities support the
assumptions that these plans are based on.
In 2008 EQUATIONS along with partner organisations undertook a comprehensive research study to
examine the status of tourism, its existing and likely impacts of proposed tourism development plans.5
While the level of tourism activity in the Andamans is high, women are involved in comparatively low
profile jobs like running petty shops for selling fish and fruit. Men constitute the majority of the work
force in tourism establishments 89.3% are male and only 10.7% is female.6 Thus women in general
have lower employment opportunities even within tourism much like in other sectors.
Tourism has affected the lives of the women in the Islands, whether they are associated with it directly
or not. One success story is of three women – Rajni Ika, Pandiamma and Kanti Tirku – who got

Women Speak!

together as members of a self-help group to start an eatery in Havelock Island in December 2006.
They are in contact with the guides in Port Blair who refer tourists to their eatery. They make a profit
of Rs 12,000 a month which is shared between the three of them. The usual problems of the island,
such as acute shortage of water and rising prices of vegetables need to be dealt with, but they are
happy with the change in their lives that tourism has brought in.
However, the tale is not all good for other women on Havelock Island. Nirmala Rao is a widow who
works as a daily wage worker. For her, tourism is an added burden to her daily problems. Because of
increased tourism activity she finds the prices of travelling by autorickshaw (a three wheeler) have
risen tremendously. During the peak tourist season boat tickets to Port Blair are hard to come by.
Concerns are voiced by women about rising land prices and the disillusionment of the youth. Arathi
Roy, a housewife of Havelock says, “The government has brought us here (as settlers). Now they are
allowing foreigners to get land here. In the future the government may sell out on us”. She also fears
that children and youth will imitate foreigners in behavior and mode of dress. The level of education of
the youth tends to be low. While tourism is the only sector on the Islands that increases opportunities,
by opening up jobs like taxi driving and guides, she also raises an alarm by drawing attention towards
the increasing habit of drinking alcohol, with easy availability in the Islands. “Prostitution could be a
serious problem in the future”, she fears.

Endogenous Tourism Project7

The Endogenous Tourism Project-Rural Tourism Scheme (ETP) is a joint project of Government of
India-Ministry of Tourism and United Nations Development Programme (GoI-UNDP) to support the
rural tourism initiatives of the GoI which would serve to create sustainable livelihood opportunities
among low income communities living in rural areas through the setting up of alternative models of
tourism. The GoI-UNDP Project Document clearly locates this project in context of development and
social justice, ethics, sustainable human development, elimination of poverty, addressing inequalities
and inequities. Thus a unique feature and indeed core principle of the ETP is to examine and take
further the links between tourism and development”8.
While the ETP project was aimed at the economic objective of making livelihoods sustainable and
employment generation through community based actions, it also aimed at empowerment of women,
marginalised communities and youth, as well as gender equality through a convergence between the
economic and social issues. EQUATIONS was commissioned in 2008 to review the ETP in an attempt
to garner in a participative manner the experiences and learning of this large scale and ambitious
effort. We highlight in the section below aspects that relate to the role and impacts on women9.
When tourism is introduced into rural communities with the aim of social and community empowerment,
it is often assumed that communities are homogenous in an economic and social sense. Our study of
the community based tourism projects in several rural sites found that when tourism aims for
empowerment by involving women in strong patriarchal societies it creates social tensions between
the two sexes. When women take on a greater role in tourism activities and begin to demand a greater
role in decision making in these traditional and conservative societies, it challenges the “superior”
role that patriarchy assigned to men.
Patriarchal norms, caste and gender are central to define the nature of participation of women in
tourism. These social norms define whether women can actually take up roles of influence and decision
making, even if these roles are architectured into the project. Hodka, near the astoundingly beautiful
and stark Rann of Kutch (a cold Desert) in Gujarat, is an extremely conservative community where
the women lived in pardaa10 in the hamlets. When the model of tourism that the community could
engage in was first debated, the idea of homestays was strongly resisted by the communities. They
did not want the tourists to come to stay in their village. The community decided that their engagement
with tourism would be in the form of a resort outside the boundaries of their hamlet – which ensured a
kind of containment of the dangers of tourism, along with a desire to reap its benefits!

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Their norms were not only about women and clearly were about preserving strongly held cultural
norms – many of which were also deeply patriarchal. They also felt that tourists should not be scantily
dressed in shorts. Consuming alcohol was forbidden in their society and so they didn’t want the
visitors to come and have alcohol and expose their younger generation to this habit11.
While Hodka has many elements of a successful foray into tourism women who were initially a part of
the Hodka Paryatan Samiti left this Village Tourism Committee (VTC) - due to social taboos and
pressures resulting in the management of the Shaam-e-Sarhad resort being completely male. There
is an institutional framework within the ETP that seeks to address gender issues by challenging
existing power structures, but the social structures proved too hard to break through. The strong
resistance by the men towards the participation of women in any of the decision making forums in
Hodka was evident. Although a group of women are involved in the plastering and designing on the
walls of the resort, women, largely have been denied access to any decision making body.
In Raghurajpur, near Puri-Orissa, a temple and crafts village, the Raghurajpur Heritage & Tourism
Committee (RHTC – village tourism committee) is completely devoid of women. When the sub-
committees were formed, women were not even consulted. They were conspicuously absent in all the
sub committees except for one, the sanitation committee! Despite the presence of a women’s group in
the village it is not represented in the RHTC.
Similarly at Lachen in Sikkim there was a lack of participation of women in decision making structures
and process related to the project. This is also due to the fact that under the Dzumsa (form of local
self governing body) structure the scope for participation and decision making of women is generally
low. In contrast, in Chitrakote, Chhattisgarh, tribal dominated area women have a leadership role to
play in the implementation of the ETP. Here there was a special effort by the implementing agency
to build capacity, empower women and to mobilise their participation in the functioning of the Village
Tourism Committee (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Women Members of Village Tourism Committee, Chitrakote

Source: EQUATIONS, 2008

Often women’s contribution to family income is seen as marginal and their work as unskilled. Thus
even in tourism though women are involved in skilled tasks like craft production, they continue to be
seen as unskilled while men’s contribution is considered skilled owing to the gendered perception of
men as bread winners of the family. In Raghurajpur for instance women contribute equally in the

Women Speak!

production of the crafts like Pattachitra (traditional Orissa paintings on palm leaves) which is the main
and often only source of livelihood to many in the village (Figure 3). The women do all the labour
intensive ground work but the men are perceived to have the skills to do the finer aspects of the craft.
In reality the women are no less creative in their artistic excellence, but this is not acknowledged.

Figure 3: A Pattachitra, Raghurajpur

Source: EQUATIONS, 2008

Women are not a homogenous group within a community. Access to tourism activities and benefits is
defined also by the social hierarchy of caste (which is invariably linked to class). Caste and class act
as gatekeepers allowing certain sections of women within community to participate while excluding
others. e.g in Naggar (Himachal Pradesh), the VTC’s bias towards upper caste women does not go
unnoticed. When the community was asked to choose three members from each ward, they have
invariably chosen women from the more affluent upper caste families believing they would be in a
better position to represent and understand the implementation of the project. However decisions by
upper caste women do not necessarily take into account the voices or interests of lower caste women
and often caste affiliations play a stronger role than the sympathy for common concerns as women.
An examination of the norms for membership in the Village Tourism Committees that have been
evolved by the communities often tilts the balance in favour of certain dominant communities over
marginalized sections. Since backward castes themselves are not allowed easy access to decision
making positions within the VTCs by upper castes even within these tourism committees the situation
is similar in the case of women from backward castes.
In Chitrakote a major conflict emerged on the issue of the construction of shops near the waterfall site.
The objective was to sell handicrafts and food to the tourists and thereby promote the products of the
craftsmen and women trained under the project and local cuisine also promoted under it. The Panchayat
and the local administration jointly decided to provide 5 acres of government land out of an 11-acre
plot where the annual local festival takes place. It also started building shops near the waterfall on the
government land. Some vested interest groups came together and demolished the nearly completed
beautiful structures. To date no legal or police action has been taken against the perpetrators and they
have not been brought to book.
The very nature of tourism is that it requires infrastructure skills, capital and linkages to engage
successfully – and in the limited space available women from lower and backward caste have a
double handicap of gender and caste and are usually out of the reckoning. Unless carefully planned

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and designed it seems very unlikely particularly in rural setting in India that social and gender inequities
can be addressed in any significant way through tourism projects.

These initial case studies point to the opportunities that women have in carefully designed tourism
projects to carve out more meaningful roles and wield greater influence. But much depends on the
context of socio-cultural norms of patriarchy and caste to determine the extent to which they can
benefit. The need to address these issues through systematic awareness building of tourism policy
makers, planners and implementers, as well as local communities is critical.

EQUATIONS field notes to Uttarakhand – villages Lata and Tolma, September 2008.
In the 1970s, an organized resistance to the destruction of forests spread throughout India and came to be known as the
Chipko movement. The name of the movement comes from the word ‘embrace’, as the villagers hugged the trees, and
prevented the contractors’ from felling them. The first Chipko action took place spontaneously in April 1973 in the village
of Mandal in the upper Alakananda valley and over the next five years spread to many districts of the Himalayas in Uttar
Pradesh. It was sparked off by the government’s decision to allot a plot of forest area in the Alaknanda valley to a sports
goods company. This angered the villagers because their similar demand to use wood for making agricultural tools had
been earlier denied. With encouragement from a local NGO, Dasoli Gram Swarajya Sangh, under the leadership of an
activist, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and women of the area, went into the forest and formed a circle around the trees preventing
the men from cutting them down. In March 1974, women from Lata, Reni and other nearby villages led by the elderly
Gaura Devi protested against men that had come to clear cut local forests. The Chipko protests in Uttar Pradesh achieved
a major victory in 1980 with a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests of that state by the order of Mrs Indira
Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. Since then, the movement has spread to many states in the country. (http://
Rajiv Rawat (2008). The Mountain Shepherds Initiative: Evolving a New Model of Community-Owned Ecotourism In
Redefining Tourism – Experiences and Insights from Rural Tourism Projects in India, UNDP, New Delhi.
Bachendri Pal was the first Indian woman on top of Everest in 1984. She was born in 1954, in a village named Nakuri in
Garhwal. She shared with her parents her desire to become a professional mountaineer. The family was “devastated,” as
for them, her relatives and local people, the most suitable job for a woman was teaching, not mountaineering. However,
Bachendri did not budge from her determination. She joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM). She was declared
the best student and was considered as “Everest material”. She currently runs a training camp at Tata Steel Adventure
Foundation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachendri_Pal).
EQUATIONS, INTACH Andamans & Nicobar Islands Chapter, Society for Andamans & Nicobar Ecology, Kalpavriksh,
Jamshedji Tata Centre for Disaster Management – TISS, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Action Aid International India
(2008) “Rethink Tourism in the Andamans: Towards Building a Base for Sustainable Tourism”, Bangalore, India.
Ibid, pg 126.
EQUATIONS (September 2008), Review Report on Sustainability In Tourism: A Rural Tourism Model, UNDP, New Delhi
Ibid pg 3.
Ibid pg 49-62.
Purdah or Pardaa (literally meaning ‘curtain’) is the practice of preventing women from being seen by men. http://
EQUATIONS (September 2008), Review Report on Sustainability In Tourism: A Rural Tourism Model, UNDP, New Delhi,
pg 44.

Natural Disasters:
Learning from Tsunami1
September 2009

Executive Summary
This article is an abridged version of the issues highlighted in the post-tsunami research study published
by EQUATIONS in 2006 and resulting in two publications entitled:
O Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry – Coastal Area Assessment: a Post Tsunami Study on Coastal
Conservation & Regulation and Andaman Islands
O Coastal Area Assessment: a Post Tsunami Study on Coastal Conservation & Regulation2.
The research was undertaken during March to December 2005 in the Andaman Islands and the state
of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.3 The research study aimed at documenting the
links between the tsunami, community livelihoods and tourism, but also included other industries like
fisheries and agriculture, and it also aimed at a critique of the status of implementation of legal
frameworks such as the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification. The study included an assessment
of both natural and man-induced factors. The assessment was carried out by way of field visits,
consultations with local individuals and groups, photo-documentation, compilation of secondary
information and data. The investigation helped ascertain the extent of the tsunami’s impacts on
human lives, livelihoods and ecosystems. In addition, the investigation documented and critiqued
existing legal frameworks and development plans, especially tourism relating to coastal and marine
systems in the Andaman Islands.

Coastal Areas
Coastal areas in the world account for 20% of total land area, and more than 40% of the world population
live within 100km of a coast (World Resources Institute, 2007). Coastal areas are densely populated,
as they are the sites of several industrial and infrastructure developments, such as chemical and
petro chemical industries, thermal power plants, aquaculture and tourism. In addition, coastal areas
are typically sites of defence and nuclear developments.
Coastal ecosystems are dynamic between the high tide and low tide zones, and are composed of
various habitats such as estuaries, mangroves, wetlands, coral reefs, and deep seas. These coastal
and marine ecosystems are important in terms of their ecological and livelihood sustaining functions.
At the same they are ecologically fragile and are extremely sensitive to the natural and anthropogenic
activities affecting them.
All over the world, coastal areas are suffering from degradation by these human induced activities;
by constructions being too close to the beach and from pollution where industry waste water and
solid waste are dumped in the sea. As population density in the coastal zones increases, pressures
on coastal ecosystems also increase. Pressures include habitat conversion, land cover change,
pollutant loads that cause loss of biodiversity, coral reef bleaching, siltation, reduced water quality
and threats to human health from polluted water. Anthropogenic effects of the economic activities
along the coast, such as buildings and walls along beaches, prevent the ecosystem from recovering
from natural disasters.

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Natural disasters such as storms, hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis are a frequent occurrence along
coasts. They can ravage coastal cities and settlements. One such disaster is the tsunami which
occurred on 26 December 2004, as a result of an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale.
The tsunami battered the coast line of several countries. In India the tsunami was one of the country’s
greatest disasters. Many people lost their lives and there was extensive damage to the coasts of
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and parts of Kerala.
After the tsunami of 26 December 2004, EQUATIONS carried out an assessment of the resulting
damage in the Andaman Islands and on mainland India in the state of Tamil Nadu and the Union
Territory of Puducherry. These studies included an assessment of both natural and man-induced
factors affecting ecosystem health, dynamics and their impacts, reconstruction measures adopted
and their quality, community structures and their response, development plans for various sectors,
especially tourism, but also including others like fisheries and agriculture, status of implementation of
legal frameworks such as the CRZ notification.
We planned to study all island groups in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that were affected by the
tsunami. However it was not feasible to carry out the research study in the Nicobar Islands, as
permits were required, and in addition there were several NGOs already in the Nicobars carrying
out assessment and involved in relief work as the impact of the tsunami in terms of destruction of
ecosystems, built infrastructure and lives lost was maximum there. Therefore the study was limited
only to the Andaman Islands.

Background Information About the Andaman Islands

The Andaman Islands, located in the Indian Ocean, are aligned in a North to South direction. They are
a group of 550 islands, islets and rocks that cover a land area of 6,408km2. These islands are the
largest archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, and they account for approximately one fourth of India’s coastline.

Figure 1 – Showing the Location of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (World Atlas 2009)

The Andaman Islands have the last pristine reefs in the Indian Ocean region. These coral reefs, which
stretch over an area of 11,000km2, are of global significance as there are 197 species of coral reported
around the islands, which accounts for about 80% of the diversity found anywhere in the world. They
are emerging as one of the most important coral reef sites in the world (Sridha et al, 2006).
However, the coral reefs and ecosystems of small islands such as the Andaman and Nicobar group
are particularly vulnerable to environmental factors affecting small island states. These include:
O limited assimilative and carrying capacity leading to problems associated with waste management

Natural Disasters

O water storage and other factors affected by small territorial size

O a relatively large coastal zone, in relation to the landmass, making these states especially prone to
O ecosystem fragility and low resistance to outside influences thereby endangering endemic species
of flora and fauna
O vulnerability to natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, hurricanes,
floods, tidal waves and others.
These disasters also affect larger territories, but the impact is more devastating on small islands.
Small island states have a relatively high proportion of land and natural resources which could be
affected by climate change, and in particular a rise in sea level, resulting in proportionately large land
losses, particularly in low-lying areas. The loss of land causes significant impacts on the environment,
and on economic development, which often leads to a quick depletion of agricultural land and natural
resources (Briguglio, 1999).

Background Information About Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

Puducherry is a union territory, which has an area of only 492km2 and a coastline of 45km. Puducherry
consists of four regions situated at four different locations. Tamil Nadu, the eleventh largest state in
India, covers an area of 130,058km2 in the south eastern part of the Indian peninsula. Tamil Nadu is
home to many natural resources, Hindu temples, hill stations, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage
sites and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Figure 2: Showing the State of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry (SJSSJ School)

Tamil Nadu, as shown in figure 2, has a resource rich coastline, bordered by the Bay of Bengal and
the Indian Ocean, stretching for a distance of 1,076km. Approximately 46 rivers drain into the Bay of
Bengal forming several estuaries and coastal lagoons. The Cauvery River and its tributaries form a
large delta supporting agricultural activities. For tourism, there are several landforms of interest along
this coast, including, rock outcrops, mudflats, beaches, spits, coastal dunes and strand features. A
population of approximately 760,000 marine fishermen and several thousand people in allied activities

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depend on the health of this rich coast for their livelihood. Therefore management of the coastline
needs environmental, social and economic governance.
These coastal ecosystems such as the ones in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu and
Puducherry, which include coastal habitats and communities, need to be protected by government
policy and law. In India, one such law is the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification.

Coastal Regulation Zone

India’s coastal areas are governed by the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification. This notification
was issued in 1991, under the Environment Protection Act of 1986. The CRZ Notification is a specialised
piece of legislation for regulating anthropogenic activities along the coast. The CRZ notification is
used by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for the purpose of protecting and improving
the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental protection. There
are several other pieces of legislation, official orders and notifications that govern coastal activities
such as the Merchant Shipping Act of 1958, the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the Environmental
Protection Act of 1986, to name a few. However, the CRZ notification seeks to achieve three objectives:
O siting or location of activities or operations
O restricting or permitting activities
O balancing development and protection needs.
The CRZ Notification has a classification system, for the CRZ based on the zones ecological and
geomorphologic characteristics and on the nature of anthropogenic presence in the area. These
classifications are:
CRZ-I (i) ecologically sensitive areas such as sanctuaries
CRZ-I (ii) areas between Low Tide Line and High Tide Line
CRZ-II areas already developed up to or close to the shore line, such as drainage or approach
CRZ-III undisturbed areas that neither belong to CRZ-I or CRZ-II
CRZ-IV the coastal stretches in Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep and small islands, except
those designated as CRZ-I, CRZ-II or CR-III.

The Tsunami
Tsunamis are large-scale natural hazards that have caused tremendous loss of life and destruction of
property. Historical records show that the Pacific Ocean has had the majority of tsunamis with wide
scale destruction. Tsunami destruction has occurred in Japan, Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, South
America and elsewhere in the Pacific (DOD, 2005).
Although not as frequent as in the Pacific Ocean, tsunamis do occur in the Indian Ocean and pose a
great threat to all the countries of the region. The most vulnerable are: Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri
Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Maldives, Somalia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Madagascar,
Mauritius, Oman, Reunion Island (France), Seychelles, South Africa and Australia.
Tsunamis that travel across an ocean and attack a coastal area far away from the source of generation
are called distant-tsunamis or teletsunamis, while tsunamis that are confined in an area near the
source are called local tsunamis (DOD, 2005).
On 26 December 2004, the Indian coastline experienced the most devastating teletsunami in recorded
history. The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake at 06:29 hrs of magnitude Mw 9.3 at 3.316o N,
95.854o E off the northwest coast of Sumatra in the Indonesian Archipelago. It is the most powerful
earthquake that has occurred in the world in the last 40 years. The earthquake occurred close to the
Sunda Trench in water depths of about 1300m. The earthquake hypocenter (the point below the
epicentre within the earth) was located at a shallow depth, of about 30 km below the ocean floor. The
high magnitude (Mw 9.3) of the earthquake, combined with the shallow hypocenter triggered the
catastrophic tsunami in the northeast Indian Ocean. The waves travelled across the open ocean as

Natural Disasters

Figure 3: Showing the Travelling Waves of the Tsunami, and Time Taken to
Reach Various Countries (UNEP-Grid)

shown in figure 3, to the Bay of Bengal and subsequently transformed into a train of cataclysmic
oscillations on the sea surface close to coastal zones of Sri Lanka, east and west coasts of India,
where immense damage occurred. India had approximately 10,750 deaths, with 5,550 people missing.
In the context of the tsunami, the challenges posed to the CRZ are centred around the fact that the
Island’s tidal lines have undergone a shift because of changes brought about by earthquakes and serious
reconsideration is required due to inadequate implementation of the CRZ since its inception in 1991.

The Tsunami’s Effects on the Andaman Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are susceptible to various natural and anthropogenic threats. The
tsunami not only affected the human populations of the islands and their infrastructure, but also caused
extensive damage to the natural ecosystems that were already stressed by anthropogenic pressures
such as deforestation and destruction of mangroves, sand mining, unsustainable fishing practices,
soil erosion, coral destruction, unplanned and unsustainable tourism, wildlife trade and the introduction
of exotic species (Arthur, 2004).
The tsunami caused extensive damage to infrastructure and natural ecosystems. On the islands
3,513 people lost their lives and 10,000 houses were severely damaged as a result of the tsunami.
The most serious loss of life in the island groups was suffered in the Nicobar Islands. The large extent
of loss of human life and property demonstrates how large scale disasters such as tsunamis can
devastate small islands. The assessment was covered through the following themes; impact of the
tsunami on the human community, ecology and the changing geomorphology of the islands.

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There was uplift of land by as much as 1m in the northern group of islands, creating new land and
subsidence in the southern parts causing land loss. This caused a change in the high tide line (HTL),
and a change in the CRZ. The reef flats that were uplifted are now exposed during low tide, and the
coral has died. With time, these exposed reef flats will become extensive beaches and the littoral
forests are likely to extend the land area. The mangroves are also affected. The mangrove roots need
to be submerged for 16-18 hours a day and exposed for 6-8 hours a day to breathe. In the uplifted
area the high tide waters stay 0.75m to 1.00m below the normal level, and the waters are not reaching
the roots of the mangrove trees. This is causing the mangrove trees to dry out. In the areas where the
land subsided, the mangrove roots are submerged and the roots cannot breathe.
The seawater inundated and caused a change in salination of approximately 11,010ha of agricultural
land. This is one fifth of the total area that used to be under agriculture. About 6,000 farmers have
been affected by the tsunami, due to the loss of their land.

The Tsunami and Tourism in the Andaman Islands

Early data from government sources gave pointers towards the extent of the tsunami impact on tourism
based solely on comparisons of tourist arrival figures. Subsequently, in a research study carried out by
EQUATIONS in 2008, the impact on post-tsunami tourism arrivals in 2006 was observed. The graph in
figure 4 indicates the arrival of tourists to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands between 1980 and 2006.
The arrival of tourists to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, although rising throughout, saw a sharp
increase in the mid-1990s, then steadily rising until the sharp dip in 2005 on account of the tsunami. The
fall in arrivals after the tsunami indicate that arrivals of domestic tourists reduced by 72% (from 105,004
to 30,225), whereas the arrival of foreign tourists reduced by 53% (from 4,578 to 2,156). This fall in
arrivals is largely attributable to the fear of the ocean that was in tourists minds following the tsunami.
Figure 4 indicates that the rise in arrival of domestic tourists has been much more steady and significant
than the rise in arrival of foreign tourists. Of the total arrivals to the islands, 93% are domestic tourists,
whereas only 7% are foreign tourists – reflecting a predominant visitation by those within the country.
Across the 26 years for which tourist arrival data is available, the growth rate for domestic tourists is
an astounding 1,243%, whereas that of foreign tourists is a much lower 332%.
The impact of the disaster on tourism reveals that much of the loss to the local tourism industry came
from the cancellation of bookings made by tourists rather than physical loss of infrastructure or facilities
on the island itself. Tragically, the only consolation for the local tourism industry was the large number
of scientists, NGOs, relief workers and senior government officials who visited the Andamans after
the disaster struck. The tsunami has undoubtedly adversely impacted the local tourism industry that
has increased economic hardship for communities dependent on tourism. The most worrisome aspect

Figure 4: Tourist Arrivals to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands between 1980 and 2006

Number of Tourists


Domestic Tourist
60000 Foreign Tourist
Total Tourist




Natural Disasters

in the post-tsunami context is that the Administration (and in particular the Information Publicity and
Tourism department of the Islands) does not acknowledge the link between the disaster and the
vulnerability of the island’s tourism economy.

The Tsunami Effect in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

On the Indian mainland, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry’s coastline bore the brunt of the 2004 tsunami. In
Tamil Nadu the aftermath effects of the tsunami were studied in 14 districts, Tiruvallur, Chennai,
Kancheepuram, Villupuram, Puducherry, Cuddalore, Karaikal, Nagapattinam. Tiruvarur, Pudukottai,
Ramnathapuram. Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari. In the Union Territory of Puducherry the
effects were studied in two regions; Puducherry and Karaikal.
The tsunami caused an estimated 8,005 direct deaths in the state of Tamil Nadu, and 600 deaths in
Puducherry. These tsunami causalities and damage were influenced by several factors such as:
O the topography of coastal and marine areas
O the degree of human intervention and alteration of coastal landscapes by siting development projects
O increasing urbanisation resulting in loss of coral reefs, mangroves and sand dunes
O the population density of the affected areas
O nature of habitat – dwelling units and location
O unpreparedness of people
O non compliance of administrative regulations and laws such as the CRZ notification.
The CRZ regulates the setting up and expansion of industries and operations within 500m of the HTL.
The regulations recognised that the traditional fishing industry and coastal settlements had certain
customary rights to the land they had long occupied, some of which was between 200m and 500m
from the HTL. Therefore families in these settlements were given an option to relocate to new houses
beyond the 500m distance, and these houses were provided free of cost to willing families.

Disaster Management and CRZ Implementation in the

Context of the Tsunami: Lessons not Learnt
The occurrence of the tsunami has increased concerns among civil society groups about coastal
management. It has brought to the fore the issue of lack of implementation of precautionary clauses to
safeguard coastal communities from natural disasters as well as the loss of natural ecosystems.
Unregulated and large-scale tourism destroys the very resources which create the tourism opportunities
in the first place. These impacts are further magnified in the case of fragile ecosystems such as coral
reefs and mangroves. The environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts, though visible, are
often very difficult to quantify due to the complex and long term nature of these impacts. As a result,
in the Andamans, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, tourism cannot be made the mainstay of the economy,
but it should be linked to other sectors. New areas should not be opened for tourism, including
ecotourism, unless proper impact assessment studies have been undertaken and made available for
public intervention, such as local governments and community groups deciding on whether a green
signal should be given to such developments at all, or insisting that mitigating factors are built in.
In view of the fact that many tsunami-affected communities still live in temporary shelters without land
for permanent housing allocated to them, preference must be given to the sustainable livelihoods of
coastal and fishing communities rather than to tourism development.
The reconstruction of those structures and dwelling units that were unauthorised prior to the tsunami
should not be permitted by CRZ notification in any of the CRZ. Before granting clearance to any more
projects on the coast, impact assessment studies need to be undertaken to address the additional
environmental damage that may result from proposed new projects. In addition, sector-wise studies,
especially for tourism need to be undertaken to assess the extent to which economic benefits and
employment are created for local communities. These studies need to maintain the health and basic
needs of local communities and ecosystems as central goals.

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For instance in the case of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, CRZ regulations have not been upheld
through all the rebuilding and reconstruction initiatives. The uplift of the land in the northern group of
islands and subsidence in the southern parts have created a new terrestrial land mass is the northern
parts while land has been lost in the southern parts of the Andaman Islands. This has caused a
change in the High Tide Line and consequently in the Coastal Regulation Zone. There is therefore an
urgent need to remap the HTL and the CRZ in the Andamans as well as in Tamil Nadu, as the present
situation gives scope for violations of the CRZ notification. Demarcation of the HTL and categorisation
of CRZ I, II, III and IV in areas both affected and unaffected by the tsunami and geomorphological
changes is necessary before undertaking reconstruction and rebuilding of the coast.
Additionally, community-based models of the management of ecosystems should be encouraged,
especially in mangrove areas. Such community-based tools should be promoted as a way to increase
ownership and responsibility. Similarly, traditional methods of beach conservation should be
encouraged. These natural ecosystems are vital for the protection of the coast from natural disasters
as well as resilience and quick recovery from natural disasters when they do occur.
This article is abridged from earlier research publications by EQUATIONS by Donna Michele D’Costa.

About the Author

EQUATIONS was established in India in 1985 in response to an urge to understand the impacts of
tourism development particularly in the context of liberalised regimes, economic reforms and the
opening up of the economy. We envision tourism that is non-exploitative, gender just, and sustainable,
where decision making is democratised and access to and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed.

Arthur, R. 2005. Killing the Goose and Eating it Too: Mixing Developmental Metaphors in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Comments on the draft Andaman and Nicobar State Development Report 2005. Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.
Biguglio, L. 1999. Small Islands, Measuring vulnerability. Available at: http://www.ourplanet.com
DOD - Department of Ocean Development Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management Project Directorate, Chennai,
2005. “Preliminary Assessment of Impact of Tsunami in Selected Coastal Areas of India.” Chennai, India.
EQUATIONS, Feb 2006. “Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry – Coastal Area Assessment: a Post Tsunami Study on Coastal Conservation
& Regulation”, Bangalore INDIA.
EQUATIONS, Feb 2006. “Andaman Islands – Coastal Area Assessment: a Post Tsunami Study on Coastal Conservation &
Regulation”, Bangalore INDIA.
EQUATIONS, INTACH Andaman & Nicobar Islands Chapter, Society for Andaman & Nicobar Ecology, Kalpavriksh, Jamsetji
Tata Centre for Disatster Mangement – TISS, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Action Aid International India (2008) “Rethink
Tourism in the Andamans – Towards Building a Base for Sustainable Tourism,” Bangalore, India.
SJSSJ School, Tamil Nadu map web accessed at url:
Sridhar, A., R. Arthur, D. Goenka, B. Jairaj, T. Mohan, S. Rodriguez and K. Shanker, 2006. “Review of the Swaminathan
Committee Report on the CRZ Notification”, Draft submitted to UNDP, New Delhi.
UNEP-Grid Lab – web accessed url: http://www.grid.unep.ch/product/map/images/indianocean_propwave.gif
WorldAtlas 2009, accessed on the web on 15th August 2009 – url - http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/asia/lgcolor/
World Resources Institute (2007) “Population within 100km of coastlines.” http://earthtrends.wri.org/maps_spatial/

This paper Natural Disasters: Learning From the Tsunami has been submitted to and published by ECOT in their book
Disaster Prevention in Tourism: Perspectives on Climate Justice.
Unless separately referenced, all references in this article are from these studies.
In August 2006 a bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha changing the Union Territory’s name from Pondicherry to Puducherry
- its name before it was colonised by the French. While it was still called Pondicherry when we conducted the study in
2005-06, we refer to it in this paper by its now official name, Puducherry.

Canopy Tourism:
Concept and Practices in the Indian Context
October 2009

The paper shares information on canopy tourism initiatives in India. These tourism initiatives have
been analysed from the perspective of people’s participation in decision-making, project planning and
implementation and their contribution to conservation. Case studies on the canopy tourism initiatives
in Kerala –Elevated walkways in Thenmala and Tree houses in Waynad, provide an insight into this
emerging form of tourism.
The idea of canopy tourism is gathering momentum throughout the world emerging from the South
and Central American countries to the Asian countries, especially in South East Asia. Many states in
India like Kerala, Maharashtra, Andaman and West Bengal have come up with similar initiatives in
sensitive and ecological fragile areas. In some places it is just walkways or places of stay, while some
are transporting mechanisms like ropeways and support adventure activities.

Information about different forms of canopy tourism was identified by secondary research. The case
studies are based on field visits to Jungle Park, Green Magic- 1, Wayanad and Thenmala Ecotourism
Project at Kerala. The Jungle Park, Green Magic Resort claims to have constructed the first tree top
house in Asia. The Thenmala Ecotourism Project has an elevated walkway which is very similar to
canopy walkways. Data from interviews with officials in both projects were also used to compile the
case study.

Concepts & Forms of Canopy Tourism

Canopy Walkways
Canopy walkways are bridges between and in the canopy of a forest; mostly linked up with platforms
inside or around the trees. They were originally intended as access to the upper regions of ancient
forests for scientists who conduct canopy research.

Elevated Walkways
Elevated walkways are walkways built across the canopy at different levels so that tourists are able to
get a close look at the canopy from the walkways at different heights.

Tree Houses
Tree Houses are houses constructed in the trees just below the canopy. The birth of the concept of
tree houses is linked to ways of living of tribal communities. Tribal communities in Kerala used to
construct houses in the trees to protect themselves from animals. Tree houses for tourists were
modelled on these original tree houses.

Zip Line
A zip-line (also known as a flying fox, zip wire, aerial runway, aerial rope slide, death slide or tyrolean
crossing) consists of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline. It is designed to enable a
user propelled by gravity to traverse from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable, usually made of

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

stainless steel, by holding on or attaching to the freely moving pulley. Zip-lines come in many forms,
most often used as a means of entertainment.

Aerial Ropeways
Aerial Ropeway is an arrangement of overhead cables suspended from towers and supporting travelling
buckets used for transporting people, usually over rough terrain. Aerial ropeways are almost similar
to “sky trams a high technology cableway that gives the opportunity of intermediate ride with short
stops to observe the cloud forest biodiversity”. Though sky trams are not found in India.

Canopy Tourism and its linkages to Ecotourism

In the current scenario more and more ecologically sensitive areas are being opened up for tourism
wherein in many adventure activities are promoted in the name of ecotourism. ‘Ecotourism’, which
was meant to refer to a set of principles, has been reduced to a “product” that overlooks environmental,
social and economic benefits to communities and ecosystems that it is supposed to deliver on. In this
context, the following section looks at critical components of ecotourism as it should be practised and
the extent to which they are practised in existing canopy tourism projects.

One of the important aspects of ecotourism is that tourism activities lead to conservation of the
ecosystem, where it is operating. It incorporates principles of conservation of natural resources and
biodiversity; rational utilisation of resource: land, water, conventional and non-conventional energy
sources, for creation and maintenance of tourism infrastructure and facilities that are in coherence
with the needs of local environment and culture. Any developmental project affects the ecosystem it
operates in. For any ecotourism model, it is important that cumulative impact assessment is done
prior and post projects to ensure that the impacts are minimal.
In the case of canopy tourism, the aspect of conservation has been overlooked. In most cases
(walkways, ropeways) it requires heavy infrastructure development and investment. For example the
Uttarakhand Tourism Board has recently invited bids for finalisation of ropeway projects. “The three
ropeways include the celebrated Dehradun-Mussoorie ropeway that alone is expected to cost Rs.800
crore. The other two projects are the Jankichatti-Yamunotri and the Thuligad-Purnagiri ropeway that
are much smaller, costing Rs 30 crore and Rs 17 crore, respectively.” The environmental impacts of
such infrastructure heavy development are not measured prior or after the projects. Also to recover
the cost of investment, it is difficult to limit tourist numbers. Usually mass tourism becomes necessary
for such models for financial viability and the conservation aspects are not addressed.

Community Participation & Benefit Sharing

Another important component that needs to be addressed is the community participation in the canopy
tourism. For any tourism project to be sustainable, the involvement of local communities in the planning,
implementation and monitoring phases of the project is essential. Involvement of local communities
from the planning phase helps them in understanding the project in a broader sense and how the
benefits emerging out of such projects could be channelled to the local community. It is also essential
to involve local communities to engage with tourism development and plan tourism in more sustainable
ways in line with traditional customs and practises and governance.
In canopy tourism, the participation and benefit sharing depends on the scale of the operations of the
project. Since many of the canopy tourism models are aimed at high end tourists, small community
based initiatives are non existent as they find it difficult to make these high investments.

Institutional Mechanisms
Ecotourism requires an institutional mechanism, where there is a scope for discussions on the objectives
of tourism development, monitoring, decision making and benefit sharing mechanisms and a platform
where people’s concerns are addressed. A multi-stakeholder platform involving the local communities,

Canopy Tourism

panchayats, tourism industry and the government involved in the development of the project needs to
be constituted wherein tourism activities are regulated within the existing laws and policies to ensure
that the project is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Education & Interpretation

Another key element of ecotourism is the education and interpretation for the tourists.
Educating the tourists about fragile ecosystems and their links to lives of local communities is an
important component of minimising tourism impacts. Canopy Tourism provides an important scope
for the education of tourists on these aspects. An education and interpretation programme would help
them understand the importance of the canopy they are visiting and enjoy nature in a more
environmentally sensitive manner.

Case Studies
Elevated Walk Way at Thenmala, Kerala
This was commissioned in 2002 at the adventure zone of Thenmala Ecotourism Project (Government
of Kerala undertaking) at Kollam, Kerala. The elevated walkway is built in an area, which was once
reserved Forest. The land was given on lease to the irrigation department for the construction of
Kallada Dam. After the construction work was over, this land area was transferred to tourism department
for ecotourism development in the late 90s. The walkway which starts from a deck passes through the
canopy and ends in a road at the upper part passes through the canopy at different levels. This
walkway has total length of 120 metres and the maximum elevation point is 21feet. The walkway is
supported by 11 reinforced concrete pillars and the steps and platforms are made out of huge quantity
of wood – ‘Kambakam’. The walkway connects 11 trees and was built at a cost of Rs. 25 lakhs.
Around 25,000 tourists pass through this walkway annually. This is not uniform and during certain
holidays, the number exceeds 250 tourists per day. At some points of time, the tourist number goes
beyond 50, especially when an excursion group comes, making it unsafe. With many tourists at a
time, the scope to peacefully enjoy the canopy or understand the ecosystem more closely is limited.
An observation of the officials reveals that the nesting of the birds in the area has reduced. But since
no record of nesting was taken prior to the project, the actual impact is not known. A number of Bonnet
Macaques are seen in the canopies. There has been behavioural change in the monkeys with tourists
feeding them. The monkeys have been reported to snatch food items from tourists. There is no
participation of local community in the project. On a positive note all the trees in the zone are named
and this helps the tourists to identify the trees

Tree Houses at Wayanad, Kerala

1. Jungle Park, Green Magic
The first tree house was built as an innovative tourism product in the late 90s by the Jungle Park,
Green Magic -1. The idea was taken from the tribals building huts in trees to keep safe from elephants.
The tree houses are erected in a coffee and cardamom plantation area. Certain types of trees like
the ‘Koli’ are selected for the construction of tree houses due to their strength. The property has two
tree houses. One of the tree houses got partially damaged recently. The two tree houses on the
property are at a height of 90 feet and 135 feet. The cost of the construction ranges between Rs.15-
20 lakhs. Every year after the rains the platform has to be changed and the ropes and the water
bags used for the lift system to carry tourists up to the tree house have to be changed once in 6
months. The maintenance cost is also high as everything has to be carried from Vythri to the resort
and then from the base of the tree to the top. The location is very remote and the road access has
also to be maintained. One tree house requires 5 to 6 support staff in addition to ground infrastructure
like kitchen, restaurant etc. Thus financial viability is higher when it is a part of a conventional
resort. Tourists just enjoy the scenic spot, unique location and tranquillity. There is no element of
education or interpretation about the canopy ecosystem or the flora and fauna. In tree houses, there
is an element of risk and tourists are prohibited from drinking and kids are not allowed to stay from
the danger of falling down. Smoking is also prohibited due to fear of causing fires. The participation

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of local community is limited to construction of tree huts and its maintenance. Since the tree houses
are attached to the conventional resorts, which are in the ground, the day to day operations of the
tree houses are also maintained by the staff of the resort.

2. Vythiri Resorts
The tree houses were constructed one year back. The Jungle Park Resort was closed down for some
time. There was demand for tree houses by tourists as well as tour operators at this point of time and
thus started the initiative. Two tree houses were constructed within a span of 4 months costing around
35 lakhs. The tree houses are erected in a property of 150 acres, where the resort area is 30 acres
and the rest is plots and plantations. The tree houses on the property are at a height of 90 feet and 60
feet. Every year the bamboo roof and bamboo ply are to be changed and repainted. Stay in the tree
house is expensive as the cost of accommodation goes up to Rs. 12000 per day. 95% of the guests
are foreigners and the tree houses are booked for 300 days per year. The tree house needs 6 support
staff to serve the guests. Tourists are taken for morning and evening trails and naturalist accompanies
them, but education on canopy ecosystem is nil. Liquor consumption, smoking and children below 12
years are not permitted owing to safety reasons.

Analytical Views of Case Studies in Relation to Ecotourism

The two case studies hardly satisfy the crucial components of ecotourism. In both the cases, investment
is high (around 20 lakhs) though the projects have not contributed to conservation or provided benefits
to the community. In the case of elevated walkway, we have observed the presence of birds and
nesting reducing and changes in animal behaviour due to increasing tourism activities.
For the tree houses, also there is no element of conservation due to high requirement of natural
resources for construction and maintenance activities at regular intervals.
In the elevated walkway, the tourists spend around 10 minutes and with no restrictions on number of
tourists at a given time, the scope for peaceful watching and understanding of canopy is also limited.
In both the cases, no efforts have been made to raise awareness about the sensitivity of the ecosystem
or educating tourists about activities they can be engaged in like bird-watching, identifying the various
species of insects or reptiles. The involvement of local communities in the planning of the project or
accessing and routing benefits to them is absent. Since these infrastructures are built without taking
into consideration the long term impacts and benefits these will provide to local communities as in the
case of elevated walkway or private entrepreneurship model as in the case of tree houses, no
institutional structures have been created to look into the aspects of planning, monitoring or operation
of these models.

The above case study models and other models like aerial ropeways, are investment heavy projects
Such huge infrastructure models are environmentally damaging and could never be considered as
ecotourism models.
Many canopy style tourism projects are coming up in ecologically sensitive areas like Andaman &
Nicobar Islands and it is important to look at whether these constructions are made in accordance
with the existing legislations and building norms existing in the country. It is important to understand
the socio- economic and environmental impacts of such projects.
While linking canopy tourism to ecotourism, it is essential to understand to what extent the project is
sustainable. In models like tree houses, there is a need to involve local communities and stakeholders
and ensuring they have access to benefits either through employment, sustainable local sourcing of
raw material that contributes to local economy. An independent infrastructure may not be able to do
this. Creation of interpretation centres, training local communities to work as trained guides for the
tourists, providing facilities for bird watching, studying the canopy life – all could create additional
possibilities for engagement of local communities and channelizing benefits to them.

REDD in India
An Independent Monitoring Report
December 2009

India covers 2.5% of the world’s geographical area and is home to 1.8% of the world’s forests. India
also supports 17% of the world’s human population and 18% of its livestock population. The Indian
forests are home to around 100 million people and provide sustenance to them.
India is rich in flora and fauna with more than 45,500 flowering plants and 91,000 animal species
found in 16 major forest1types. India’s forests meet nearly 40% of the country’s energy needs and
30% of its fodder needs.
According to the State of Forest Report2 2005 published by the Forest Survey of India , the recorded
area in the country is 769,626 km (or 23.41% of the country’s 2geographic area). Of this, 419,028
km is Reserved Forest (54.4% of the total forest area), 216,605 km is Protected Forest (28.14%) and
133,993 km is Unclassed Forest (17.4%).
Reserved Forest is an area notified under the provisions of either the India Forest Act (1927) or the
State Forest Acts, and has full protection. In a Reserved Forest all activities are prohibited unless they
have been explicitly permitted. Protected Forest is also notified under the provisions of the same
Acts, but the degree of protection is more limited: in Protected Forests all activities are permitted
unless prohibited.
Unclassed Forest is an area recorded as forest but not included in any other forest category. Unclassed
forests are actually outside the control and management of the forest departments and primarily
belong to communities and individuals.
According to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in 1999, around 31 million ha of Indian forests
were degraded.
The total forest cover of the country as per the 2005 assessment is 677,088 km² and this constitutes
20.6% of the geographic area of the country. Of this, 54,569 km² (1.66%) is very dense forest, 332,647
km² (10.12%) is moderately dense forest, and 289,872 km² (8.82%) is open forest cover. Madhya
Pradesh with 76,013 km² has the maximum area under forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh
(67,777 km²) and Chhattisgarh (55,863 km²). In terms of the actual proportion of a state under forest
cover, Mizoram has the maximum percentage (88.63%). It is followed by Nagaland (82.75%), and
Arunachal Pradesh (80.93%).

Precursors to Forest Governance in India

Prior to the advent of the East India Company and the subsequent establishment of the British Colony
in India, there was no formal forest policy. Various princely states had different approaches to managing
the forestry resources available in their areas.
British rule, though, brought with it ‘scientific’ forest management, with a narrow agenda focused on
sustained commercial timber production. This favoured a few commercially valuable species to the
exclusion of all else, thereby providing regular profits to the colonial empire. However, this management
practice, spurred by the economic interests of the age, was based largely on conjecture and blindly
copied European production-based forestry models.

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The basic colonial approach was to declare forests as state property and curtail the rights of the forest
dwellers to areas with commercially valuable species. Clear-felling of vast tracts of forest was the
favored method of ‘forest operations’, followed by complete closure to grazing and other human
activities, such as the collection of firewood, fodder, medicinal plants, bamboo, etc. The Forest
Department (FD) was created in 1864 to oversee these operations. This assertion of state monopoly
right and the exclusion of forest communities, a process by which the British gradually appropriated
forest resources for revenue generation, thus shaped the organizing principles of forest administration
in modern India.
Towards the end of the 19 century, almost 80% of the forests was owned by communities and private
individuals. Today, state ownership has increased to more than 80% of the recorded forest area.

Indian Forest Policies and Their Implications

The objective of the first Indian Forest Policy in the colonial period (adopted in 1894) was to manage
state forests for the public benefit. It viewed forests as potential sources for generating profits, although
it did stress the need to preserve forests in hilly regions and to treat income generation as a secondary
priority if local needs conflicted with their management of forests as revenue-earning properties.
This policy marked a significant shift in consolidating the state’s property rights regime over forests.
The forest communities were not only denied their traditional rights and privileges but were given no
role in preserving and managing India’s forests. It marked the beginning of the process of marginalization
of these people.
The Permanent Settlement of 1757 and the 1894 forest policy resulted in rebellions and revolts of the
forest and Indigenous tribal communities that started in 1784 and continued until the first quarter of the
20th century. They were primarily directed against the new land and forest policies of the British. But the
British crushed them ruthlessly, bringing fresh areas under their control and formulating new legislation
to legitimize the transfer of property rights from the community/individual to the state. The Forests Acts
of 1878 and 1927 and the forest policy of 1894 facilitated the strengthening of this new order.

Figure1: Degraded Open Forest in the Tribal Heartland of Chhattisgarh in Central India.
Photo: Souparna Lahiri

REDD in India

Chronology of forest policies and legislation in India

British Colonial Period
O The Indian Forest Act, 1865

O The Indian Forest Act, 1878 (modified)

O The Indian Forest Policy, 1894

O The Indian Forest Act, 1927 (amended and modified).

Independent India
O National Forest Policy, 1952
O Wild Life Protection Act, 1972

O National Commission on Agriculture, 1976

O Forest Conservation Act, 1980

O National Forest Policy, 1988

O Joint Forest Management Circular, 1990

O The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

Following independence, India’s Forest Policy Resolution of 1952 and the 1976 National Commission on
Agriculture (NCA) report also stressed the importance of production forestry and achieving self-sufficiency
in the supply of wood products from the nation’s forests. The 1952 policy also called for the protection of
wildlife and the preservation of fauna by demarcating forests for sanctuaries and national parks.
The 1988 Forest Policy, however, departed from these economic priorities by treating forests first and
foremost as an ecological necessity; then as a source of goods for use by the local populations, with
particular emphasis on Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP); and finally as a source of wood and other
products for industry. It also set a target of increasing forest cover to 33% of India’s land area.
Additionally, it advocated that this area be increased to two-thirds in the hills to prevent erosion and
land degradation and to ensure the stability of these fragile ecosystems.
The NCA recommendations flowed directly from the increasing threats to existing forests. They
recognized the protective and aesthetic functions of forests, regulation of grazing and shifting cultivation,4
and the domestic needs of the people for various forest products, such as fuel wood and fodder.
Thus, the NCA advocated a social forestry model involving industrial plantations on degraded forests
lands and non-forest lands to meet the growing domestic demand for forest products and the fuel
wood and fodder of local communities. Social forestry was seen as a way to reduce pressure on
natural forests and the dependence of forest communities on those forests.
The basic objectives of the 1988 Forest Policy were:
O Maintaining environmental stability through preservation and restoration of the ecological balance.

O Conserving the country’s natural heritage by preserving its remaining natural forests.

O Checking soil erosion and denudation in water catchment areas.

O Checking the proliferation of sand dunes.

O Increasing forest/tree cover through afforestation and social forestry programs on denuded, degraded

and unproductive lands.

O Meeting the requirements of rural and tribal populations for fuel wood, fodder, minor forest produce

and small timber.

O Increasing the productivity of forests to meet essential national needs.

O Encouraging efficient utilization of forest produce and maximizing substitution of wood.

O Creating a massive people’s movement, with the involvement of women, to achieve these objectives

and minimize pressure on existing forests.

The 1988 policy also paved the way for the implementation of Joint Forest Management (JFM). The
program was promoted by a Government of India circular to all states and union territories giving
guidelines for the “involvement of village communities and voluntary agencies in the regeneration of
degraded forests.” This document, for the first time, specified the rights local communities have over
forest lands, giving the protectors usufructs such as grasses, NTFPs, and a portion of the proceeds
(ranging from 20-100%) from the sale of trees when they mature.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Forest Legislation, Conservation and Forest-dependent Communities’ Rights

The first Colonial Forest Act was drafted in 1865, primarily for the colonial government to declare
forests as state property, and carry out ‘scientific forestry’ to gradually replace existing mixed forests
with monocultures of commercially valuable species. That 1865 Act was modified in 1878, as the
colonial establishment found that people’s rights were interfering with the clear felling of commercially
valuable forests. The provisions were found to be too friendly to the traditional rights of forest people
and not stringent enough in curtailing them. This was the reason underlying the division of forests into
Reserved Forests (RF), Protected Forests (PF) and Village Forests (VF). The 1878 Act enabled the
government to severely curtail traditional rights (called concessions in the Act) in the first two categories,
on the basis that the Village Forests would meet the basic needs of village communities.
The Indian Forest Act of 1927,5 the legislative foundation of the forest sector in independent India,
was derived from that Colonial 1878 Act. Since independence, several states have enacted their own
legislation, while others have amended the Act to suit local needs. Critically, the Act gave state
governments the power to divert forest land for other uses. Although the 1952 policy criticized this
clause, it did not change the law, leading to millions of hectares of forest land being diverted between
1951 and 1980. During this time period, 4.3 million ha of forests were lost.6 The 1927 Forest Act does
not support people’s participation in forest protection and management, and it does not promote
social forestry either.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 (WLPA) is also relevant to the rights of forest-dependent
communities, even though it differs significantly from the Forest Act in that it gives primacy to
conservation over exploitation. The objectives of WLPA have been used to justify curtailing the legitimate
daily survival activities of forest-dependent people in wildlife habitats, evicting them forcibly and without
proper resettlement, and centralizing the management of these habitats in the hands of a callous and
unresponsive bureaucracy. It created the two major types of protected areas we see today: National
Parks (NPs) and Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLS). Its blanket ban on all human activities, except tourism,
is causing considerable suffering among the thousands of local people, who have been deprived
access to the forests they depend on for their sustenance and survival, leading to conflicts between
them and the Protected Areas (PA) authorities, together with a sharp decline in public support for
conservation. To further complicate matters, however, WLPA has not been effective in fending off the
pressure of commercial and industrial interests. In effect, the Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA) of 1972
criminalized forest people and took away their traditional Non-Timber Forest Products and fishing
rights in protected forests, while poaching continued unabated.
There are 96 National Parks and 509 Wildlife Sanctuaries, covering 15.7 million ha, which is about
4.78% of the geographical area of the country. About 20% of India’s forests fall within the Protected
Areas network.
The Forest Conservation Act (FCA) of 1980 was the first legislative attempt to slow deforestation
by controlling government behavior. It limited the power of state governments to de-reserve Reserved
Forests or divert forest lands for non-forest purposes without the permission of the central government.
The Act also required state governments wanting to divert forest land for non-forest uses to identify an
area of non-forest land of at least equal size for compensatory afforestation. In addition, a charge was
levied. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was created in 1984, to monitor state
compliance with the provisions of the legislation.
This legislation has also caused and continues to cause immense deprivation and suffering to millions
of forest people across the country. Villages are routinely denied basic amenities like roads and water
supply pipelines. Forest and Taungya (forest workers’) villages are denied schools and health centers
as well. Yet large parts of protected NPs and WLS still get de-notified regularly for destructive activities
like mining, quarrying and building of large dams.
The threat of eviction had loomed large over the forest people of this country ever since the promulgation
of the 1972 WLPA and the 1980 FCA. The Supreme Court of India passed several interim orders to

REDD in India

clear encroachment of forest lands. The November 2001 MoEF order acts as the basis of the most
draconian government orders of recent times. This order directs state governments and union territories
to summarily evict all encroachers from forest land. Because the Court and MoEF define all land
under the Forest Departments as ‘forest land’, irrespective of the actual use of those lands, the
government order can be (and is being) used to evict even traditional settlements in forest areas. As
a result, the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 has rendered more than 20 million forest people as
encroachers, even though it has not stopped the massive deforestation and diversion of forests
resources to industry.
A Joint Forest Management (JFM) circular recommending ‘involvement of village communities and
voluntary agencies in the regeneration of degraded forest lands’ was issued on 1 June 1990, by the
MoEF. It was merely a government order with no force of the law behind it, but most states have
passed resolutions to introduce JFM and comply with the order because they were also faced with
threats of curtailment of centrally-sponsored schemes. JFM has had some impacts in situations where
state control had already completely eroded traditions of community forest management. However, in
areas where traditional forest management practices still exist (like the north-eastern states, Madhya
Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Uttaranchal), JFM is undermining and commercializing
traditional systems and bringing community-protected forests under the control of the forest department.
JFM was essentially imposed on the forest dwellers without appropriate consultation at any stage of
its planning and implementation. It has also led to the marginalization and displacement of tribals and
the violation of their customary and traditional rights: the defining feature of its implementation has
been its policy of evicting ‘forest encroachers’, which has led to many forest dwellers losing their
lands and access to forest resources. There were 56 JFM project-related police firings in Madhya
Pradesh during the five-year JFM 9
period under the World Bank Forestry Project, some of which
resulted in the death of tribals. In 1997, for example, two tribal villagers were killed by the armed
forces in Mandla and Dahinala when they tried to defend their crops.
The Public Hearing on Forest Rights held in Harda district of Madhya Pradesh in 2001, whose
panel comprised eminent academics Dr Nandini Sundar and Madhu Sarin and journalist Rakesh
Diwan, highlighted the manipulative and threatening tactics employed by the forest department to
extract money, food and begar (a form of bonded labor, where tribal women are obliged to cook,
clean and wash for the village forest officers). These, among many other documented grievances,
led organizations like the Adivasi Mukti Sangathan (Sendhwa), Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Jana
Sangharsh Morcha and Bharat Jan Andolan to develop large-scale opposition to JFM and the
Forestry project.
As a reaction to this opposition, the World Bank established a Joint Review Mission in 1999 to evaluate
the claims made by the Mass Tribal Organisations (MTOs). The Mission, formed by representatives of
the World Bank, the Madhya Pradesh (MP) Forest Department and the MP Mass Tribal Organisations,
investigated the impact JFM had had on Adivasi communities in the state through field visits and interviews.
Throughout the process, consensus between the three participant groups was reached for every statement
made for the report. The report found that amongst other negative elements of the project :
O There was little to no participation of forest-dependent communities in the planning, implementation
or evaluation of the JFM project
O The customary rights of forest dwellers were denied; and
O The livelihoods of the forest dwellers had been threatened by the project.
On the eve of the publication of the report, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department pulled out, in an
effort to de-legitimize the whole process. The Bank then followed suit, abandoning the Joint Mission.
The Mass Tribal Organisations in Madhya Pradesh published the report unilaterally in May 1999, and
have since been awaiting the promised formal response to the report from the Bank. The mass
demonstrations held both locally at Forest Department offices in 1999 and in New Delhi at the World
Bank’s offices in 1999 and 2000 to obtain this response have been to no avail.

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The Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act (2006), however, marked a real watershed in the history of forest communities’
struggle in India. For the first time, the Government of India through the Scheduled Tribes and the
Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights), Act (2006) admitted that “forest
rights on ancestral lands and their habitat were not adequately recognized in the consolidation of
State Forests during the colonial period as well as in independent India resulting in historical injustice
to the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who are integral to the very survival
sustainability of the forest ecosystem.”
After a prolonged struggle in the wake of forest communities being evicted as encroachers as per the
WLPA 1972 and FCA 1980, and heated debate in the Indian Parliament, this Act was passed to
recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation of forest land in forest-dwelling scheduled tribes
and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in such forests for generations but
whose rights could not be recorded.
The significant provisions of the 2006 Forest Rights Act are that it provides:
O Tenurial security and access rights to forest dwellers

O The right to hold and live in forest land under individual or common occupation for habitation or for

self-cultivation for livelihood

O The right of ownership access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce that has been

traditionally collected within or outside village boundaries

O Other community rights of uses or entitlements such as fish and other products of water bodies,

grazing and other traditional resources accessed by nomadic or pastoralist communities

O Rights of settlement and the conversion of all forest villages, old habitation, unsurveyed villages

and other villages in forests (whether recorded, notified, or not) into revenue villages
O The right to protect, regenerate, conserve or manage any community forest resource that they

have been traditionally protecting or conserving for sustainable use

O The right of access to biodiversity and community rights to intellectual property and traditional

knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity.

This Act empowers the Gram Sabha (the traditional village assembly) to play the pivotal role in
ensuring the rights of forest dwellers, decision-making, planning and management. The functioning of
the Gram Sabha is vested with the village-level Forest Rights Committee (FRC).
According to the Act, forest rights recognized in critical wildlife habitats in National Parks and Wildlife
Sanctuaries are violated unless it is clearly established that co-existence is not possible and there is
no other alternative. The free and informed consent of the Gram Sabha will also be necessary in
relation to any resettlement and other consequences.
The forest rights to land under actual occupation will be restricted to an area not exceeding four hectares,
and is heritable, and inalienable. Such rights shall be registered jointly in the name of both the spouses
in case of married persons and in the name of a single person in case of a household headed by a single
person, and in the absence of a direct heir, the right shall pass on to the next-of--kin.
The Act overrides any other forest act in terms of implementation and interpretation. The Forest
Rights Act is a step in the right direction not only in passing age-old rights back to the forest communities,
but also for protecting, conserving and ensuring the sustainable use of the forests and its ecosystem.
However, even though it was passed in December 2006, implementation has so far been very poor,
primarily due to covert opposition from the Forest Department which does not want to share its absolute
power with the forest communities and still regards itself as the biggest landlord in the country. Officials
of the Forest Department together with the wildlife lobby have been creating umpteen obstacles to
this Act from the very first day. This is the reason why the FD still recognizes the Joint Forest
Management Committees – the FPCs in their official documents and reports, instead of Forest Rights
Committees as per the Forest Rights Act 2006.

REDD in India

Rights of Indigenous People and UN Declaration on Rights of

Indigenous Peoples
The working definition of Indigenous communities and peoples arrived at by the UN Secretariat of the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues reads:
“Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-
invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from
other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present
non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future
generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence
as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system.
“This historical continuity may consist of the continuation, for an extended period reaching into the
present of one or more of the following factors:
O Occupation of ancestral lands, or at least of part of them;
O Common ancestry with the original occupants of these lands;
O Culture in general, or in specific manifestations (such as religion, living under a tribal system,
membership of an indigenous community, dress, means of livelihood, lifestyle, etc.);
O Language (whether used as the only language, as mother-tongue, as the habitual means of
communication at home or in the family, or as the main, preferred, habitual, general or normal
O Residence on certain parts of the country, or in certain regions of the world; f) Other relevant
However, the Government of India and its administrative authorities do not recognize or use the term
Indigenous. Instead, the Indigenous and/or tribal communities in India are recognized through provisions
of Article 366 and 342 of the Indian Constitution under a special category referred to as “scheduled
tribes”. This defines them as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes
or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes.” The criteria used to
specify a community as a scheduled tribe include indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture,
geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness. These
criteria are not spelt out in the Constitution itself but have become well established in practice. They
subsume the definitions contained in the 1931 Census, the reports of the first Backward Classes
Commission 1955 and the Advisory Committee on Revision of SC/ST lists (Lokur Committee).
The total population of Scheduled Tribes was 84,326,240 according to the Census in 2001, which
accounts for 8.2% of the total population of country
However, within civil society groups in India, tribal groups, experts and academics, the categorization
of certain tribal communities as scheduled tribes is controversial. The grouping of ‘scheduled tribes’
does not include all the tribal communities in India and the criteria used for scheduling is not without
debate. In the north eastern part of the country the terms ‘tribal’ and ‘indigenous communities’ are
mostly used, whereas in the rest of the country such communities are referred to as ‘Adivasis’.

India and the Definition of Indigenous Peoples

In United Nations negotiations over the years, India has consistently refused to recognize the tribal
communities as Indigenous Peoples, even though India voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the UN General Assembly of September 2007. In relation
to UNDRIP, Indian Representative Ajai Malhotra said his country had consistently favoured the
promotion and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights: the fact that the working group had been
unable to reach consensus was only reflective of the extreme complexity of the issues involved. While
the Declaration did not define what constituted Indigenous Peoples, the issue of Indigenous rights

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

effectively pertains to peoples in independent countries who were regarded as Indigenous on account
of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region which the
country belonged to at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present State
boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retained some or all of their socio-economic,
cultural and political institutions.
The Indian government’s position on this contentious issue is further clarified by the statement of the
then Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Y K Sabharwal while speaking in the International Law Association
Conference (2006) in Toronto: “Firstly, it is argued that it is not easy to identify indigenous peoples in
India. For there have been continuous waves of movement of populations with different language,
race, culture, religion going back centuries and millennia. Tribal communities have been a part of this
historical process. In the circumstances the question arises as to how far back in history should one
go to determine the identity of “indigenous peoples”? Whatever the nature of determination it is likely
to be extremely arbitrary and controversial. Secondly, tribal and non-tribal peoples have lived in India
in close proximity for over centuries leading to, as one author puts it ‘much acculturation and even
assimilation into the larger Hindu Society.’ Thirdly, in the case of India some tribes are no longer tribes
but have become, as the eminent sociologist Andre Betteile puts it, ‘castes or something else’. Fourthly,
tribal peoples in many cases may have settled in India long after some non-tribal peoples in other
parts of India. Finally, attention has been drawn to the serious national sovereignty issues involved
revolving around question of “self-determination” and ownership of lands.” Justice Sabharwal further
said, “It may not be fair to say that the claim of some countries like that of India are not correct. India
is indicted, unjustifiably though, at times on the ground that it is resisting to accept the existence of
indigenous peoples in its society. When one looks at it from the standpoint of a person other than
Indian, it may appear that India’s stand is not correct. But one who is familiar with the Indian scenario
may agree with the Indian perception. India has a history of cultural assimilation even while we agree
to some communities maintain their distinct identity within the nation. India always presented a unity
in diversity and diverse cultural identity is no insignia of the existence of indigenous group. “Indeed,
India accepts the existence of different tribes within its larger system again not different from the main
culture in terms of the core values. True to its tradition of cultural assimilation and spirit of
accommodation the Indian constitution presents the picture of the larger system of permitting the
smaller political systems of tribal populations to be part of the system to remain distinct culturally but
to be part of the larger system politically with sufficient autonomy wherever necessary and possible.
Schedules V and VI of the Constitution of India specifically make provision for safeguarding the interests
of the tribal people in India located in what is called tribal areas.”
While controversy still exists over the very notion of the scheduling of certain tribal groups, the criteria
followed for such selective scheduling, and national sovereignty issues around the question of self-
determination and the ownership of lands, are at the crux of India taking a position in complete contrast
to the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) within the country.
The majority of tribal groups and communities have long demanded political autonomy over decision-
making and governance on issues related to them and in their areas, and recognition of their traditional
and customary rights over their ancestral land and habitats. Strong public mobilization, tribal14movements
and electoral politics resulted
in the enactment of a separate Provisions of the Panchayat (Extension
to the Scheduled Areas ) Act (PESA) in 1996 which provides:
O Autonomy over customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices
of community resources
O A village community to manage its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs.
O A Gram Sabha to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural
identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution.
O That the Gram Sabha should approve of the plans, programs and projects for social and economic
development before they are taken up for implementation by the Panchayat at the village level
O That the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making

REDD in India

the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-settling or
rehabilitating persons affected by such projects
O For the recommendations of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level to be
made mandatory prior to the granting of prospecting licenses or mining leases or concessions.
Panchayats at the appropriate level and the Gram Sabha are also specifically endowed with:
O The power to enforce prohibition or to regulate or restrict the sale and consumption of any intoxicant

O The ownership of minor forest produce

O The power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled Areas and to take appropriate action to

restore any unlawfully alienated land of a Scheduled Tribe.

While the PESA Act did devolve some powers to the tribal village communities and councils in
Scheduled Areas, the same Act does not expressly recognize the sole rights of the tribal village
council or their traditional self governance institutions: it thus allows the ‘Panchayats at appropriate
level’ to usurp these powers. Also PESA, the Land Acquisition Act, the Rehabilitation & Resettlement
Policy, environmental decision-making processes and clearances for development projects in
Scheduled Areas do not reflect the spirit of ‘free and prior informed consent’ as enshrined in UNDRIP.
Moreover, provisions of PESA are restricted only to the communities living within Scheduled Areas.
Furthermore, the draft National Tribal Policy only addresses India’s Scheduled Tribes: it does not
represent other tribal and Indigenous communities or all adivasis in India.
The draft Tribal Policy says that, “There is a very strong symbiotic relationship between the STs and
the forests and they have been at the forefront of the conservation regime. Due to faulty processes of
declaring forests in the past, the rights of the tribals over their traditional land holdings in the forests
have gradually been extinguished. Insecurity of tenure and fear of eviction from these lands has led 16
the tribal communities to feel emotionally as well as physically alienated from forests and forest lands.”
Nevertheless, though the draft policy talks of mandatory consultation with the Gram Sabha and the
Tribal Advisory Council, it is conspicuously silent on the issue of consent of the communities and the
safeguard and protection of ancestral lands and sacred groves of the tribal population.
On the implementation of the PESA, the draft policy states “PESA requires the State Governments to
change their existing laws, wherever these are inconsistent with the central legislation. In reality,
however, in the decade since its passage, very little has happened. Many State Governments have
passed laws or amended existing ones, but not fully in conformity with the Central law. The
implementation of the law has been severely hampered by the reluctance of most State Governments
to make laws and rules that conform to the spirit of the law. The non-empowerment of tribal communities
remains one of the most critical factors responsible for the less than desired outcomes in all the
interventions, monetary or otherwise meant for their development.”

India and the Convention on Biological Diversity

India’s Fourth Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity was officially released in June 2009.
In what seems to be a new initiative ‘Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)’ have been established in the
Western Ghats. The report states that, “India is committed to contributing towards achieving three
objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the 2010 target and the Strategic Plan.
Strategies and plans for conservation and sustainable use of biological resources based on local
knowledge systems and practices are ingrained in Indian ethos and are enshrined in the Constitution
of India (Article 48A and Article 51 A(g)) in the form of environmental protection. In recent times, the
major building blocks of policy frameworks, legislations and action plans that drive the country in
achieving all the three objectives of the CBD include, among others, Biological Diversity Act (BDA),
2002, National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) (2002-2016), National Environment Policy (NEP) 2006,
National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP), 2008 and National Action Plan on Climate Change
(NAPCC), 2008.

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The policies, legislations and action plans cited above, are, however, not without controversies and
severe criticisms.
While the Biological Diversity Act (2002) faced severe criticism from the communities and related
NGOs, the processes resulting in NEP 2006 and NAPCC 2008 were also accused of being non-
participatory and non-transparent. The MoEF also rejected the National Biodiversity State Action
Plans developed and formulated by the rural communities, tribal groups and forest people in 2002,
and no action was taken to implement the recommended action plans. In addition, the National
Agriculture Policy (2000), National Seeds Policy (2002) and National Wildlife Action Plan, also
mentioned in the Fourth Report, were drafted and finalized unilaterally without any meaningful and
proper consultation with or the participation of stakeholder communities.
The Government of India claims the enactment of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest
Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (2006), the establishment of the Wildlife Control Bureau,
the integration of biological diversity concerns into the Environment Impact Assessment Notification
(EIA, 2006), the draft Coastal Management Zone Notification (2008) and the National Tiger Conservation
Authority are all measures taken to strengthen implementation mechanisms in policy, legislative and
administrative measures targeted at biodiversity conservation and management.
In reality, even after the Indian Parliament passed the Forest Rights Act in 2006 December, it took the
Government one full year to notify the Act, primarily due to the opposition of the wildlife lobby, a
section of MoEF bureaucrats and the strong Forest Department lobby.
Furthermore, there is nothing to indicate that legitimate biodiversity concerns have been integrated into
the EIA Notification 2006. On the other hand, the NGOs, tribal groups and adivasi communities have
accused the MoEF of diluting the earlier notification of 1994 to pave an easy way for the project developers
to get their projects cleared. These groups have demanded scrapping of the EIA Notification 2006.
The draft Coastal Management Zone Notification is another government folly. This draft was
surreptitiously introduced in an attempt to replace the earlier Coastal Zone Regulation Notification, at
the behest of the strong real estate, tourism and infrastructure lobby, who want to free India’s vast
coastline of the fishing and other coastal communities, even though this would deprive them of their
livelihood and traditional habitat. Amidst consistent protest from the fishing communities, the
Government was forced to let the draft Notification lapse by the end of July 2009.
There is really nothing to indicate that the Indian Government is genuinely keen to protect and conserve
its rich forest biodiversity, except the steps and instruments that it has put on paper – which remain on
paper only.
Consider the biodiversity rich states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal. More
than 300 mega hydro projects, oil exploration, cement plants, chemical plants and extensive mining
activities are proposed in these states, even though Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh are part of the
Indo-Myanmar Biodiversity Hotspot with hundreds and thousands of rare and endangered plant and
animal species. Thousands of hectares of pristine forests are diverted for non-forest activities and
destroyed, much subsequently replaced by monoculture plantations in the name of afforestation.
Similarly, the forests and habitats of tribal communities are cleared and given to global mining and
steel giants in the central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

India and REDD

India has championed the concept of ‘Compensated Conservation’ since negotiations in Nairobi, in
2006 (in particular through a workshop in Cairns,
and a Subsidiary Body for Scientific and
Technological Advice (SBSTA) meeting in Bonn.
At the 13 meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-13) to the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Bali, in December 2007, the Indian delegation claimed a
breakthrough in putting forth India’s concern with forest conservation as central to negotiations on

REDD in India

Figure 2: Plantations on Forest Land Along the Highway - Chhattisgarh

Photo - Souparna Lahiri

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). The Indian proposal on
forest conservation and the sustainable management of forests, and incremental increases in forest
cover, put forward as a policy approach to enhance carbon stocks, found place not only in the preamble
but also in the operative part (paragraphs 3 and 7) of the COP’s decision on REDD. Similarly, the
COP decision on the Bali Action Plan contains references, inter-alia, to policy approaches and positive
incentives relating to the role of conservation, the sustainable management of forests and the
enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
India’s focus on the importance of including the conservation of forests and sustainable forest
management, and improvements in forest cover, in REDD received the usual support from Costa
Rica, China, Panama, Malaysia, Gabon, Ghana and African countries amongst others. Collectively,
they demanded:
O The inclusion of forest degradation, the conservation of forest and/or increase in forest cover in the
REDD draft text
O That REDD projects should be accounted for and conducted at the national and/or sub-national
India’s two main approaches to REDD are ‘compensated reduction’ and ‘compensated conservation’
where it says that carbon is saved from reducing deforestation and degradation, and carbon is added
through conservation, the sustainable management of forests and increases in forest cover
(afforestation and reforestation). Both have to be compensated equally.
India’s arguments rest heavily on the claim that India is a low deforestation country. This is contentious.
The forest groups in India have said all along that the loss of dense to moderately dense forests within
the recorded forest area is being hidden under the garb of increasing forest and tree cover. The first
enumeration of forest and tree cover in India was covered by the State of Forest Report 2001. According
to this report, forest cover has been taken as comprising all lands more than one hectare in area, with
a canopy density of more than 10 per cent, irrespective of land use and ownership. All perennial
woody vegetation (including bamboos, palms, coconut, apple, mango, neem, peepal, etc.) has been
treated as tree in the report. Thus, all lands with tree crops, such as agro forestry plantations, fruit
orchards, tea and coffee estates with trees, etc. have been included as forest cover since 2001.
The 2003 assessment reveals an overall increase of 2,795 km2 or 0.41% in forest cover across the
country. But there is a decrease in dense forest cover to the tune of 26,245 km2 (6.30%) and the
open forest cover has increased by 29,040 km2 (11.22 %). Moreover, because satellite data is still
treated as ‘classified’ in the country, and ‘ground-truthing’ (if any) is carried out in a similarly
clandestine manner, it is difficult if not impossible to verify exactly how much natural forest is vanishing
every year, and where from. However, from the State of Forests reports, it can be seen that

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degradation of forests is not confined to any particular province or region, but is happening, almost
uniformly, throughout the country.
The incremental increase in forest and tree cover is also due to industrial plantations both on degraded
forests and non-forest land, and compensatory afforestation programmes to compensate diversion of
recorded forest land for development projects. According to the information collected from the Ministry
of Environment and Forests by an NGO Kalpavriksh (through the Right to Information Act) between
1980 and 2007, 1,140,177 ha of forest land were diverted for non-forest purposes. Out of this a
whopping 311,220 ha were cleared recently between 2003 and 2007.
According to the National Forest Commission in 2006, about 41% of the country’s forest cover has
already been degraded and dense forests are losing their crown density and productivity continuously.
At present, 70% of forests have no natural regeneration and 55% are prone to fire.
India’s conservation regime as it is implemented through a set of Protected Areas (PAs) has also
been extremely controversial, displacing and violating the basic human rights of the forest people.
There is little basic data of the number of forest dwellers being displaced by the PAs or practically
imprisoned in them without basic amenities and rights over NTFP, fuel wood or fodder. The National
Forest Commission (2006) indicates that an estimate of around 4 million are imprisoned within the
Indian PAs.
Large scale displacement of forest people and loss of usufruct rights have been reported in the National
Parks of Tawa, Nagarhole, Pench, Kanha, Buxa, Palamau, Rajaji, and Tadoba and scores of Wildlife
sanctuaries during the last 35 years. The GEF funded India Eco-Development Project, which
emphasized conservation by reducing dependence of forest communities on forests, itself contributed
to the displacement of more than 200 villages in the NPs of Nagarhole, Pench, Kanha and Buxa.
India is therefore, claiming financial incentives for a forest management regime that displaces and
violates the rights of forest people, continues to divert large tracts of forests, often dense to moderately
dense, and then replaces it with industrial, monoculture plantations.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The REDD text agreed in COP-13 in Bali did not include the rights of the indigenous people who are
living in the forests in the tribal and hill districts. These forests include unclassed forests, community
conservation areas managed and controlled by the communities. It is the forest communities who
have continued to conserve and preserve the pristine forests of the north east, Khutkatti areas of
Jharkhand, forests under Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand or the community conserved forests of
Orissa. The forest departments have no role. Yet, when it comes to claiming the incentives, REDD will
provide financial incentives only to the national government. The REDD text does not include any
mechanism whereby the incentives could be shared by the forest communities or benefit them.
Considering the legacy of the forest bureaucracy in this country, the absolute power that they enjoy
over forests and its resources, the landlord-like attitude that is reflected in its relationship with the
forest people, it is difficult to imagine that the incentive from REDD will be passed on to the forest
Take for example the afforestation funds collected from industry for the diversion of forest lands and
the Net Present Value (NPV) levied per ha of forest land diverted, as directed by the Supreme Court
since 2003-2004. The Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)
was created to deal with funds collected through both NPV and compensatory afforestation schemes.
Today this fund has risen to a whopping Rs.112000 million and remains unused. The MoEF has
decided to disburse this amount to States for greening India – to increase tree and forest cover rather
than forest regeneration. In July 2009, the government decided to release Rs.50000 million to the
States for the next five years for afforestation and increase of tree and forest cover. There is no
mention of any mechanism to compensate the forest communities whose land have been diverted or

REDD in India

acquired, from this fund. This huge sum under CAMPA was primarily collected from the heavily forested
regions of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and the north eastern part of the
country where sizable tracts of forest land are traditionally owned by the communities and individuals.
Things have become more complex with the enactment of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Large tracts of
forests in India will legally come under community governance. How will REDD recognize the legally
binding rights of the forest communities, and their contribution to conservation and sustainable
management of forests and biodiversity? Who can then claim the incentives for reducing deforestation
and degradation? Will REDD undermine the community conservation efforts and rights of the forest
communities and strengthen a centralized form of forest governance practiced by countries like India,
eroding the recent gains that forest communities have snatched at a great cost? Will REDD be the
nemesis for the Forest Rights Act, 2006 in India?
In all likelihood it seems that REDD and other forest-related funds will only promote an artificial greening
of the country, whilst increasing the financial clout of the forest bureaucracy and thereby undermining
the rights and entitlements of the forest people. The way things are currently moving in the forest
sector in India, market or fund-based financial mechanisms like REDD may tend to act as a disincentive
towards the decentralization of forest governance. The majority of the forest people in India have
already shifted to areas which are of less intrinsic value and considered uneconomic. REDD could be
the final straw for forest dependent communities, if both the state and private sector actors are then
tempted to stake their claims to these ‘uneconomic’ areas.

Figure 3: Dense, Community Controlled and Governed Forest in Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh,
North East India.
Photo -Souparna Lahiri.

It seems that the emergence of a REDD fund in India is unlikely to lead to the conservation of natural
old growth forests, or regeneration of forests, or improvements for the life and livelihood of the forest
people. The commodification of India’s forests may well be completed, at the cost of its protectors –
the forest people and forest communities.

India’s Fourth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government
of India, 2009.
State of Forest Report 2005, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, 2005, http://www.fsi.nic.in/sfr_2005.htm

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Report of the National Commission on Agriculture: Forestry, Volume IX, New Delhi, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation,
Government of India, 1976.
available at http://moef.nic.in/index.php
India’s Forests, Forest Research Institute, Government of India, Dehradun, 1984.
available at http://moef.nic.in/index.php
available at http://moef.nic.in/index,php
Village Forest Protection Committees in Madhya Pradesh: an update and critical evaluation, Emily Caruso, Anurag Modi,
Forest Peoples Programme, 2004.
A summary of the Joint Mission’s findings can be found in the document cited above in footnote 9.
Available at http://tribal.gov.in
Gram Sabha is a traditional village council/assembly, where the council is constituted of every adult villager with equal
voting rights including women.
The Concept of Indigenous Peoples, background paper prepared by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issue, New York, 2004.
A Panchayat is a constitutionally recognized elected body of self-governance at the lowest tier of the three tier self
governance system in India. Panchayats enjoy some form of autonomy as per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments.
Scheduled Areas are constitutionally recognized scheduled tribes’ majority areas with various forms of autonomy and
formally categorized as Schedule V and Schedule VI areas.
Available at http://tribal.gov.in
India’s Fourth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government
of India, 2009, available at http://moef.nic.in/index,php
Views from ICFRE, Dehradun, India (an Observer organization) to UN FCCC on REDD, India’s Submission to Cairns
SBSTA, 2007, www.icfre.gov.in
REDD Negotiations: Case for HFLD Countries, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, 2009. This is a
comprehensive document explaining Indian Government’s approach to REDD from Montreal COP to Bonn, available at
Data compiled by the author from various sources.

Ecological Commons,
People and Tourism
March 2010

Tourism is a highly resource centric and resource heavy industry that banks on the availability of land,
water and natural resources for providing the tourist experience. Unregulated tourism and diversion
of natural resources for meeting tourism demands has caused negative impacts on the environment.
Inevitably, local communities that are dependent for their livelihoods on commonly shared natural
resources also experience hardships from depletion of the commons. The case of the Himalayan Ski
Village Resort in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh gives a glimpse into the nature of communities’
struggles against tourism led privatisation of commons.
The $300 million Himalayan Ski Village project financed by Alfred Ford, the great-grandson of the US
automaker, Henry Ford was stopped by local communities and Him Niti Campaign, a local group. The
Himalayan Ski Village (HSV) project included the construction of hotels, restaurants, cafes,
entertainment and shopping areas, as well as apartments and villas in Kullu district of Himachal
Pradesh. Initially the project’s built up area was spread over 133 acres and required 6000 acres of
pristine forests and mountain areas for skiing activities, making a storage house and support base
(for heli pad and gas station) near Beas River (the area has not reduced as per the report of the High
powered committee –it is at 93.1 ha or 223 acres). The developers had proposed to divert 14.7 Ha of
forest land for the project. Local communities’ organizations and NGOs opposed the project due to
the following reasons. Its requirements for large scale deforestation and increased risk of floods and
siltation in dams and farms downstream; impact on flow of natural resources like medicinal herbs,
fodder, fuel wood to the villages located down the slopes, disrupt rights and livelihoods of nomadic
communities by taking away their grazing rights in high altitude pastures, pollution of water sources
and decreased water availability in rivers, streams due to artificial snow making. These rivers and
streams are the primary source of water for drinking and irrigation for local communities and pollution
would render them unusable for agriculture and drinking purposes.
In June 2007, Jan Jagran Evam Vikas Samiti (JJVS) and a local hotelier filed a Public Interest Litigation
(PIL) in the High Court of Himachal Pradesh. In April 2008, the High Court disposed off the PILs
saying that they were satisfied with the state government’s action of constituting a six-member High
Powered Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Tourism) to look into various aspects
relating to setting up of Himalayan Ski Village1. The High Powered Committee report recommends
that the State government can terminate the MoU with HSV as local communities did not support the
project, as their wellbeing and livelihoods depends on the environment. The Government can also
terminate the signed deal as HSV had not fulfilled the conditions of the interim agreement signed with
Government by not submitting the EIA report for environmental clearance, and therefore. However
the very same Committee recommends opening Pandora’s box all over again by inviting global tenders
for a ski village project2.
The above example shows how tourism is increasingly encroaching on public commons in the guise
of development. Moreover the State, a mere trustee of these public resources, is found to facilitate
acquisition of common property resources for private use and profit. Tourism depends on variety of
economic, social, physical resources, often in competition with needs of local communities.
Communities’ resources for sustenance like agricultural land, common property resources (CPR) are

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diverted for exclusive use of tourism. Common property resources - beaches, natural streams &
water bodies, forests, bugiyals (grazing lands) in the mountain valleys, which were once accessible to
local communities, are increasingly getting converted into private spaces. Hence communities loose
their power of ownership, regulation and control over common property resources.
Water is diverted to meet commercial needs of tourism enterprises like hotels, resorts, amusement
and water parks, golf courses etc. The demand for water by the tourism industry in most instances
has meant less water for nearby farmers, villages and households. For example, in Goa:
The local population of villages of Cansaulim – Arossim – Cuelim’s monthly consumption of water
was 19440 cu.m. of water. In comparison, Hotel Heritage consumed 5012.70 cu.m. while Park Hyatt
consumed 36217 cu.m. almost double the requirement of the three villages3. The development of
tourist facilities like golf courses has resulted in pollution and depletion of ground water resources for
surrounding communities. An average 18-hole golf course requires at least 525,000 gallons of water
a day - enough to supply the irrigation needs of a 100 farmers4.
Due to land acquisition and displacement of local communities for construction of big hotel projects,
communities have lost access to natural resources and therefore their livelihoods. Massive investment
into tourism, takes over common property resources that are used for sustenance and livelihoods by
local communities, at times through benami transactions5. In the case of the Himalayan Ski Village
project, the State Government of Himachal Pradesh led by the Planning Commission changed its
land policy under Section 118, Himachal Pradesh Land Reforms Act to attract private investments in
tourism sector6. Section 118 restricts purchase and sale of property by non-Himachalis (non residents
of the state). HSV enjoyed an exemption from the provisions of Section 118.
Ecotourism is the new magic mantra endorsed by the tourism industry giants, travel - trade associations
and governments. Ecotourism’s promotion as a market-based conservation mechanism has seen
areas rich in biodiversity including protected areas and national parks being opened for tourism.
In the name of ecotourism, mainstream tourism that is devoid of environmental sustainability, equity
in benefit-sharing with indigenous and local communities is being pushed into various eco-fragile
areas. The potential of ecotourism to conserve biodiversity has been contested. These areas have
been conserved by indigenous and local communities who have inhabited them for centuries are now
being displaced in the name of conservation. Increasingly tourism is being allowed a backdoor entry
into the very regions that were set aside by laws of conservation, without significant concern of its
conflicts with conservation goals and impacts on ecology and communities dependent on these natural
resources for sustenance. The tourism industry is allowed to operate with subsidies and incentives in
protected and other ecologically sensitive areas without adhering to stringent environmental or social
impact assessments.
A number of resorts are coming up outside the boundary of national parks. To promote ecotourism,
the Chhattisgarh Forest Department has constructed a luxurious ‘eco-resort’ in a forest adjacent to
the Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Chhattisgarh.
The Mohda eco-resort is located on forest land and on the banks of a lake, both being common
property resources. The land belongs to the Chhattisgarh Forest Development Corporation but the
resort has been handed over to Chhattisgarh Tourism Board (CTB) for running and management. The
project can be legally challenged for the diversion of forest land for commercial purposes under
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and for its transfer to private parties. TheCTB is considering the
property for privatisation. Using PPP (public-private partnership) the CTB will create infrastructure
and hand them over to private players to operate. The private players will accrue benefits and the
State will be benefitted from the collection of taxes. The common property resources of forest and
water-source, which could have been used by the local people, have now been segregated for the
exclusive use and enjoyment of tourists. The resort also violates the recommendations of Indian
Board for Wildlife in 2002 for declaration of land falling within the 10 km of boundaries of national
parks and wildlife sanctuaries as eco-fragile zone under section 3 (v) of Environment Protection Act.

Ecological Commons, People and Tourism

The development of tourism establishments on periphery also hinders movement of wildlife for food &
water. The wildlife in turn starts entering human habitations which increases the possibility of human-
animal conflict7.
These conflicts have led to damage to property and loss to human and animal lives. The lack of
consultation with local Panchayats when tourism projects are prepared by governments violates the
Constitutional provisions of the 73rd Amendment Act, 1972. Panchayats as institutions of local self
government have the power to decide the kind of development they would like in their regions and to
plan and implement schemes for socio-economic development. The role of the Panchayats is thus
reduced to a mere formality as they are only consulted after all clearances have been granted and a
no objection certificate is required. At this stage, the Panchayats do not refuse, since all other clearances
are granted.

Privatisation of the Coasts and Lakes

Privatisation of common areas and natural resources has also been witnessed in coastal areas. Local
communities are denied access to beaches as portions of it are fenced by resorts for the exclusive
use of their guests, even though beaches are CPRs that support traditional livelihoods of many coastal
communities. A few examples are discussed below.
Goa, a popular place visited by many tourists is also the place where communities have been protesting
for many years against privatisation of commons by tourism. A Writ Petition was filed in the Goa High
Court against the developers of Heritage Village Club Resort on Arossim beach in Cansaulim for
undertaking permanent construction, restricting public access to the beach, putting up barbed wire
fences, flattening of sand dunes for construction, discharge of solid wastes and effluent directly into
the sea without treatment. The construction violates the CRZ Notification, 1991 that prohibits any
permanent constructions in the No Development Zone (upto 200 metres). The Heritage Village Club
Resort had constructed beyond and within 200 metres of the high tide line. The resort has not left
adequate space for access to the beach as prescribed in the CRZ notification. Contrary to the prescribed
20 metres only 10 metres has been left for public access to the beach8.
The local fisherfolk of Velaghar-Shiroda in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra evoked the Coastal Regulation
Zone notification, 1991 to protest against tourism development. The Sindhudurg district was marked for
tourism development by the Sharad Pawar government. The local community is against the land
acquisition and eviction notices served by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation on behalf
of the Taj group of hotels, which plans to build a five star hotel and beach resort with aqua sports9.
On 4th November 2008, the Karnataka High Court questioned the practise of conversion of lakes
which are public commons for private use. The Lake Development Authority (LDA) of Bangalore,
constituted in 2002 for protection of the lakes, leased out three lakes in Bangalore (Agaram lake,
Nagawara and Hebbal Lake) to private companies for developing and maintaining them for a period
of 15 years. The Hebbal lake was leased out to M/s East India Hotels (EIH) Ltd, the parent company
of Oberoi Group of Hotels. Media reports have highlighted that the Oberoi’s had proposed to fence
the lake and charge an entry fee of Rs. 20, construct a floating restaurant, cafeteria and hotel in
front of the Hebbal lake10 thus blocking public access and curtailing traditional and customary rights
of communities. A show cause notice issued by the Forest Department observed that the EIH had
removed the entire water and aquatic vegetation unscientifically in June 2007, destroying the habitat
of aquatic birds and wildlife in violation of Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 197211. The
construction of amusement parks and other recreational facilities on the water body violates the
purpose of conservation and preservation12. This commercialisation of a public resource in the
name of conservation was opposed by local groups as the privatisation was likely to have detrimental
socio-economic and ecological impacts. The interim order of Karnataka High Court on 4th November
2008 restricted lake privatisation and directed that efforts be made protect these lakes and made
accessible to the common man13.

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Throughout the world tourism is being promoted for achieving development and India is no exception.
But the question arises, for who is this development and who does it benefit and at what cost? As
tourism is pushed into various spaces for poverty alleviation, conservation and sustainable
development, rarely has tourism been able to achieve these. On the contrary tourism has alienated
people from their rights over common property resources and has thus caused conflicts.
Tourism’s claims of conservation and benefits to local communities have not materialised. Instead the
route charted by tourism follows a privatisation of public and common property resources. Prioritising
tourism development at the cost of people’s rights is unacceptable and unjustified.

Him Niti Campaign, Himachal Pradesh, JJVS, EQUATIONS (2008), ‘Impacts of the proposed Himalayan Ski-Village
Project in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh’.
High Powered Committee constituted by State Government on directions of High Court Himachal Pradesh, ‘Report on
review/ examination of the Project Himalayan Ski Village in Kullu District, Himachal Pradesh’ . Received in response to
RTI Application filed on 5 January 2010 by Dr. Pushpalchand Thakur, General Secretary JJVS.
Council for Social Justice and Peace and EQUATIONS, ‘The Challenge and Prospects of Tourism in Goa Today’ (2009),
pg 24.
Ibid, pg 10.
Not in any specific name, false transactions.
The Planning Commission of India in 2005 brought out the Himachal Pradesh Development Report, which carried a
critical analysis of the tourism sector in the state. It states that the Himachal Tourism Department is pursuing a tourism
policy sans action and overselling the already saturated Shimla-Kullu-Manali circuit. The concern for pressures on
infrastructure was not so much about the stress on local resources but more for the fact that the State was not tapping into
other potential tourism spots to increase tourism’s contribution to the State’s economy. One of the recommendations in
the Report was to achieve this objective through reform of the tourism sector by changing the Land Policy Himachal
Pradesh’ to attract private investments; particularly section 118 of the HP Land Reforms Act.
EQUATIONS (2009), ‘Nature, Markets, Tourism - Exploring Tourism’s claims to Conservation in India’.
EQUATIONS (2008), ‘Coastal regulation in India –Why do we need a new notification?’, Pg 12.
EQUATIONS (2008), ‘Coastal regulation in India –Why do we need a new notification?’, Pg 11.
Gandhi Divya and Shivanand Swathi, ‘A farewell to Hebbal lake?’, The Hindu, 25 July 2007, < http://www.hindu.com/
2007/07/25/stories/2007072558510100.htm >, [accessed 9 April 2010].
Gandhi Divya, ‘Forest Department Serves notice on Oberoi Hotels’, the Hindu, 10 October 2007 < http://www.hindu.com/
2007/10/10/stories/2007101050310100.htm >, [accessed 9 April 2010].
Mahanti Gitanjali (2008), ‘Article on PIL against Lake Privatisation’, ESG, < http://www.esgindia.org/campaigns/lakes/
current.html>, [accessed 9 April 2010].
ESG (2008), ‘The High Court passed an interim order (zip file - 164 KB) restricting lake privatisation on 4 November
2008’, <http://www.esgindia.org/campaigns/lakes/current.html >, [accessed 9 April 2010].

Child Pornography & Tourism
A Pressing Concern
March 2010

India is home over 375 million children, comprising nearly 40% of its population. Unfortunately it also
has the largest number of sexually abused children in the world. A National Study on Child Abuse
(April 2007), covering 13 states in India and a sample size of 12,446 children, commissioned by the
Ministry of Woman and Child Development, Government of India revealed that over half the surveyed
children (53%) were sexually abused. Forms of sexual abuse included photographing a child nude
and exposing a child to pornographic materials.
Child pornography is a growing concern within India. Through still and video cameras, sexually abusive
images of children are produced. These images are accessed via the internet and increasingly now
over mobile phones. The internet provides anonymity to paedophiles who access the virtual spaces of
newsgroups, chat rooms, e-mail and websites. The internet has enabled massive expansion in materials
available and made access relatively easy and inexpensive. These technologies also facilitate organised
sexual abuse and violence against children by networks of commercial buyers, sex tourists, paedophiles
and traffickers. It is linked with several actors across borders and has direct links to tourism. One
country can be a place where production takes place, the child used for the pornographic production
could be from a second country, and the final pornographic product could be or end up in a third country.

Exploiting Children’s Vulnerability

Children get tricked / coerced into engaging in sexual acts for the production of pornography. Images
may be made in the process of sexually exploiting a child without their knowledge. These images are
then sold for a price or traded as voluntary exchange. Those who consume and/or possess pornographic
depictions of children tend to continue to exploit these children resulting in a vicious cycle.

Legal Framework in India

The issue of child pornography received scant attention in the Indian legal system until recently. The
Indian Penal Code 1860, Indian Post Office Act 1898 and Indecent Representation of Women
(Prohibition) Act 1986 have been applied to prosecute offenders for offences related to the use of
obscene materials. But these legislations are limited to visual representations, leaving out audio
materials and simulated images, which are covered under international law. In 2000, the Information
Technology Act came into force which transmitting obscene materials in electronic form punishable
but failed to specifically mention child pornography. In 2009, the Information Technology (Amendment)
Act 2008 came into force and it incorporated Section 67 (B) which prohibits and punishes the offender
from publishing or transmitting material depicting children in a sexually explicit manner online or in
electronic content. This amendment takes into consideration the international child protection standards

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the sale of children,
child prostitution and child pornography 2000. Furthermore it specifically addresses computer-related
crimes against children.
Another important legislation is the Goa Children’s Act (2003), applicable to the state of Goa. It was
the first Act in the country which recognised that tourism is a contributor to child exploitation. This Act
punishes any form of soliciting, publicizing or providing of children to any adult or even other children
for purposes of commercial exploitation. This includes hosting websites, taking suggestive or obscene
photographs, providing materials, soliciting costumers, guiding tourists and other clients, appointing
touts, using agents, or any other form which may lead to abuse of a child.
In 1996, the Freddy Peats case (Freddy Peats vs India, 1996, Session Case No. 24 of 1992) first
created public awareness on child abuse and pornography. Freddy Peats a foreigner of unknown
origin, was convicted in India for sexually abusing children, prostituting boys under the guise of running
a shelter and in possession of 2305 child pornographic photos, 135 strips of negatives, as well as
medication and narcotic substances. This was the first conviction for running an organised paedophilia
racket in India. This case should have alerted the existence of an organised system but it was dismissed
by officials and the tourism industry as an aberration. Subsequently many such cases on child abuse
have been unearthed, many of them with direct links to tourism, however the record of convictions on
these cases have been abysmal.
The Interpol, in workshops organised by civil society organisations, has indicated that there seems to
be a growing trend of child pornography material linked to India, but that the issue does not seem to
be on the radar of enforcement officials in the country. In a very recent development, child pornography
has come under the scanner specifically when in November 2009, for the first time a case was registered
against an offender under the Section 67 (B) of the Information Technology Act (2008). Wilhelmus
Weijdeveld (56), a Dutch national was arrested on 7th November 2009 by the cyber crime wing of the
police, after being alerted by the Interpol that he was uploading pornographic material of children. On
10th February 2010 he was released on bail as the Central Crime Branch (CCB) failed to file the
required charge sheet against him within 60 days from the date of his arrest. Yet another indication of
the lack of seriousness and apathy of Indian officials towards protecting children.
The World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents 2008 in the Rio
de Janeiro Declaration called upon the national and state policy and legislature, the tourism, travel,
and hospitality industry and other stakeholders to:
O Criminalize production, distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography, including virtual
images and the sexually exploitative representation of children, as well as the consumption, access
and viewing of such materials where there has been no physical contact, extending legal liability to
entities such as corporations and companies in case of responsibility for or involvement in the
production and/or dissemination of such materials.
O Undertake specific and targeted actions to prevent and stop child pornography and the use of the
internet and new technologies for the grooming of children into online and off-line abuse and for
the production and dissemination of child pornography and other materials. Victim identification
and support and care by specialized staff should be made a high priority;
O Take necessary legislative measures to require Internet service providers, mobile phone companies,
search engines and other relevant actors to report and remove child pornography websites and
child sexual abuse images, and develop indicators to monitor results and enhance efforts.
O Set up a common list of websites, under the auspices of Interpol, containing sexual abuse images,
based on uniform standards, whose access will be blocked; the list has to be continuously updated,
exchanged on international level, and be used by the provider to perform the access blocking
Child pornography in tourism is an organised and serious crime and is growing. It demands committed
and concerted action. Governments, international bodies and tourism industry must approach this
with a sense of urgency and outrage. They must play proactive, decisive and demonstrated roles in
protection of children and promise that tourism will be ethical, humane and non exploitative. Capacity
building of the police, government departments, immigration, airport authorities, hotel and travel industry,
and local NGOs to address child pornography and child abuse issues is critical.

Paper Series

Section II

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Working Paper Series 2009–2010 Section II

1. Campaign Statement - Our Culture is not for Sale! 63

on World Tourism Day, 27 September 2009

2. Letter to Smt. J. Geeta Reddy, Tourism Minister, Andhra 66

Pradesh on Concerns about the proposed Sea Cruise
from Vizag to Andaman, 26 June 2009

3. Letter to Shri. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State, 70

Ministry of Environment & Forests for improving
availability of information on environmental clearance
Letters on the MoEF Website, 30 September 2009.

4. Letter to Smt. Mamata Banerjee, Minister of Railways 73

Against Railway’s plan on exclusive coaches for foreigners,
2 November 2009

5. Letter to Editor, Times of India Against “Railways Plan 75

Exclusive Coaches for Foreigners”, 4 November 2009

6. Letter to Shri. Devendra Pandey, Chairperson, Experts 76

Committee on Environmental Impacts of SSP, ISP and
OSP on Environmental Impacts of the Proposed and
Initiated Tourism Developments at the Sardar Sarovar
Dam, 20 January 2010

7. Comments to MoEF on Draft Summary Report of the 78

World Bank Assisted Integrated Coastal Zone
Management Project, 28 December 2009

8. Press Release: Child Labour: An Ugly Face of Tourism - 82

Exploitation of Children Through Labour in Tourism,
11 June 2009

Campaign Statement -
Our Culture is not for Sale!
on World Tourism Day
27 September 2009

On World Tourism Day 2009, we call upon global tourism institutions like the UNWTO, National and
State Tourism Boards and the Industry to comprehend and accept the existence of the negative
impacts of tourism on host cultures. We urge bodies like the UNWTO not to so quickly celebrate
tourism’s role as protector of culture…tourism has some serious soul searching to do before it awards
itself that accolade!
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is “Celebrating Diversity” on World Tourism Day, 27 September
2009. They proclaim, “This year’s theme focuses on the world’s cultural wealth and the important
role sustainable tourism plays in revitalizing local traditions and making them flourish as they cross
other cultures...”1
In contrast, we quote John Urry who writes about the complex phenomenon of the tourist gaze says
“The tourist pay(s) for their freedom; the right to disregard native concerns and feelings, the right to
spin their own web of meanings… The world is the tourist’s oyster… to be lived pleasurably – and
thus given meaning”2
The impact of mass tourism on local communities’ ecology, economy and culture has been immense.
Local communities in Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan and many other highly visited tourist destinations in
India believe the costs that local people have borne are too high and impacts on culture and society
The UNWTO should know that the percentage of tourism projects that are ‘sustainable’ or pursue
‘sustainability’ is extremely small. Tourism that profits from the commercialization of culture rarely
originates from the economic or cultural necessity of the “host” communities but is usually promoted
by the profit motive of the tourism industry.

Tourism has Always Involved Spectacle!

Tourism has often led to cultural commodification and twisting culture out of its context, meaning and
functions. The tourist sees what is promoted and not how communities see themselves through their
cultural practices. A scrutiny of the attractive tourist brochures and websites of central and state
tourism departments, including the “Incredible India Campaign” by Ministry of Tourism, Government
of India, provides ample evidence for this.
The word ‘culture’ derives from the Roman word “colere – to cultivate, to dwell, to take care, to tend
and preserve” – and it relates primarily to the interaction of people with nature in the sense of cultivating
and tending nature until it becomes fit for human habitation. As such, it indicates an attitude of loving
care and stands in sharp contrast to all efforts to subject nature to the domination of human beings.
Culture cannot be manufactured, it is part of people’s life. It evolves with the natural evolution of
communities and their ways of living. Commodification of culture stops that evolution and makes it a
static object that is packaged and sold for consumption of others.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Tourism has promoted the “museumisation” of culture – taking it out of living spaces into something to
be viewed and consumed from a distance and not experienced and be moved or changed by. Most
often the wealth of plurality of culture is not documented and also there is an effort to monopolise
culture. It therefore minimises the possibility of generating genuine learning and respect of other
cultures through authentic cultural interchange.
An adivasi woman from Chhattisgarh, central India, referring to statues of their deities made from
traditional bell metal, spoke of her fear of entering any room in which they were kept! She said she
could not face them inside a room as their Gods were meant to be kept outside the village to protect
them from harm. In making a “popular product” out of their sacred deities, no one asked the adivasi
what they thought and how they felt3. Private spaces of people are dragged into the public domains.
Fulmani, a young adivasi girl from Jharkhand, another central Indian State, said, “We are called by
the district administration to dance before strangers, when ever people come to visit the officers. Why
should we dance before these strangers? Our dance is part of our expression of happiness, way of
showing our reverence to the almighty. We feel disgraced.”4 Peoples’ identities are now being shaped
by what tourism promotes and not what they actually are.
The Carnival in Goa and the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, as many other cultural celebrations in
other parts of the country, is reduced to a farce or spectacle put on for tourists, far removed from its
original role.

A Call for Some Soul Searching

Often the cultural hype associated with tourism, using public funds, is not reviewed, even under
situations of human misery. Currently India is reeling under a severe drought with half the country
officially declared as drought-affected5. The Karnataka government, a southern state, has decided to
declare 84 of the state’s 176 talukas (districts) drought hit and will approach the central government
for funds for relief work6. Nevertheless, the same Government is going ahead with a grand celebration
of the Dasara Festival in Mysore7. Even the most ardent supporters of this traditional festival agree
that today it is a government sponsored cultural event that is just another ‘show piece’ for tourist
attraction.8 This year the State Government has released Rs 8 crore for the cultural extravaganza
while more than half of its people face hunger and drought9.
There can be sensitive ways of conducting tourism but the cases are few and far between. In some of
the projects aiming at rural tourism initiatives, local communities at Chougan, in the central Indian
state of Madhya Pradesh, spoke of a sense of renewed pride in their local culture and traditions when
tourism was introduced. Tourism has also been a means of keeping local art, culture and handicrafts
alive by assuring a market for them, However, with increasing demand there is pressure on the artisans
to produce more of what will sell in the market, what the tourist will buy and what the tourist will eat.
This leads to shortcuts like the use of chemical dyes and fabric colours instead of the time consuming
traditional colours10. It also leads to seeing tourist destinations in Goa and Hampi, popular with
backpacking Israeli tourists having no local dishes and the entire menu card in Hebrew!
We accept that the intricacies and complexities of the impacts of tourism on culture cannot be covered
in one statement. However, we urge bodies like the UNWTO not to so quickly celebrate tourism’s role as
protector of culture…. tourism has some serious soul searching to do before it awards itself that accolade!

On World Tourism Day 2009, We Call Upon Global Tourism Institutions

Like the UNWTO, National and State Tourism Boards and the Industry,
O To comprehend and accept the existence of the negative impacts of tourism on host cultures.
O To use their position and sensitise their sphere of influence to prioritise local community’s perceptions
of their cultures rather than to distorts the cultural image & promote culture as commodity that is

Campaign Statement - Our Culture is not for Sale!

attractive and sellable. Only then will cultural authenticity and sensitivity be possible between the
tourist and local communities.
O To mitigate the negative impacts of tourism on culture by emphasising policies that prioritise local
communities basic needs over that of tourist luxuries when tourism is developed.
O To educate tourists on the cultural dynamics and values of the local communities and enhance
respect for their cultural sensitivities.

Statement Endorsed By
O Tourism investigation & monitoring team(tim-team), Bangkok/Thailand
O Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism (ECOT).

http://www.unwto.org/wtd/2009/en/wtd09.php - as on 11 September 2009.
Bauman, Z (1993), Postmodern Ethics, London: Routledge, Quote taken from John Urry, The Tourist Gaze, Second
Edition (1990, reprinted in 2006).
This is Our Homeland, A collection of essays on the betrayal of adivasi rights in India, EQUATIONS, July 2007.
View received during EQUATIONS interaction with the people who had gathered for the Annual convention of the Jharkhand
Jangal Bachao Andolan- a Movement to Save the Forests of Jharkhand.
Drought, Recession and Relief, Business Line, Sep 18, 2009, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2009/09/18/stories/
Nearly Half of Karnataka is Drought Hit, says minister, Thaindian News August 22nd, 2008, http://www.thaindian.com/
A Hindu religious festival that has it’s roots to the rulers of the former princely state of Mysore, Karnataka, India.
People’s Festival No More, Sundar Vattan, Spectrum, Deccan Herald, 15 September 09.
Mysore gets ready for historic Dasara, By Team Mangalorean Mysore, Mysore Sept 18,2009, http://mangalorean.com/
Sustainability In Tourism, A Rural Tourism Model, Review Report, September 2008, EQUATIONS.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Letter to Smt. J. Geeta Reddy, Tourism

Minister, Andhra Pradesh on Concerns
about the proposed Sea Cruise from
Vizag to Andaman
26 June 2009

Smt. J.Geeta Reddy
FDC & Tourism Minister
Department of Tourism, I & PR,
Government of Andhra Pradesh,
Dear Ms. Reddy
Sub: Sea cruise from Vizag to Andaman
EQUATIONS is a research, advocacy, and campaigning organisation working since 1985 on the
impacts of tourism, particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local communities. We envision
tourism that is non-exploitative, sustainable, where decision-making is democratised and access to
and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed.
The Business Standard dated 16 June 2009 reported in the article ‘AP proposes sea cruise from
Vizag to Andaman’, the plans of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation to promote
cruise tourism to the fragile Andaman Islands. Please find enclosed the article in the Business standard.
We are quite concerned about this development as research the world over has shown that cruise
tourism brings along with it many more problems than benefits. We have enclosed a note detailing
them. Cruise tourism – needs a more careful scrutiny in terms of its:-
O Contribution to the local economy –
X Even though cruise tourism has the potential to attract a large number of tourists at a

time, most of these tourists tend to spend more onboard the cruise liners; as a result the
local communities are not benefitted.
O Environmental implications -
X Cruise tourism requires heavy infrastructure development. The appropriateness of this as a

tourism product needs to be questioned given the limited availability of resources be it land
or raw material for construction etc, particularly on the fragile islands.
X High volume of tourists who come for a short duration increases the demands for energy, water
consumption. Carrying capacity of the islands is also an issue here.
X Solid and liquid waste is a serious threat to the ecosystem of the Islands, given the
discharge of waste and sewage by ships directly into the marine waters and the absence
of adequate waste management practises.
X Air and water pollution due to ships docking at multiple points on the ports also needs
to be dealt with adequate caution to prevent pollution of coastal areas and waters. The exhaust
emissions and ballast water from ships are a significant cause of air and water pollution.

Letter to Smt. J. Geeta Reddy, Tourism Minister, Andhra Pradesh on Concerns about the proposed Sea Cruise from Vizag to Andaman

Promoting increased connectivity to the islands without attention to climate change impacts on
the Islands is a short sighted strategy.
In a joint research study in 2008 (in collaboration with INTACH, Society for Andaman and Nicobar
Ecology, Kalpavriksh, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and, Action Aid) on the impacts of tourism
on the ecologically and geologically sensitive Islands, highlighted many concerns related to unplanned
tourism. The research ‘Rethink Tourism in the Andamans – Towards Building a Base for Sustainable
Tourism’ shows how current ways of developing tourism has failed to take into consideration the
aspirations of the local communities and is causing environmental problems on the islands. There is an
urgent need to ensure environmentally sound practises for the preservation of Andaman’s ecology.
We urge you to read this report that is enclosed along with this letter.
The IP & T department is quite aware of the study. We also have copied in this letter Shri. Bishnu Pada
Ray, MP from Andaman & Nicobar Islands as we are very glad to note he has raised very pertinent
questions on the nature of tourism in the Islands in the first session of the Parliament in June 2009.
We therefore think it is essential that the promotion of cruise tourism be reconsidered owing to its
negative environmental and economic impacts on the Andaman and Nicobar islands in light of the
problems already existing on the Islands.
Rosemary Viswanath
Chief Functionary

O AP proposes sea cruise from Vizag to Andaman’, Business Standard, 16 June 2009, 1 copy
O Rethink Tourism in the Andamans –Towards Building a Base for Sustainable Tourism, 1 CD
O Note on Cruise Tourism.
O Shri. Bishnu Pada Ray, MP, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, New Delhi.
O Shri. Binay Bhushan, Director, IP & T (Tourism Division), Andaman and Nicobar Islands
O Shri. G. G. Saxena, Secretary, IP & T (Tourism Division), Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Enclosure 1
Source <http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/ap-proposes-sea-cruisevizag-to-andaman/
AP proposes sea cruise from Vizag to Andaman
BS Reporter / Chennai/ Hyderabad June 16, 2009, 0:24 IST
The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) is exploring the possibility of
introducing a cruise from Visakhapatnam to Andaman and Nicobar islands to attract more tourists,
according to tourism minister J Geeta Reddy.
APTDC would buy a cruise ship that could accommodate about 100 tourists. Though the project was
proposed last year, it made no progress.
Geeta Reddy said the newly approved Cruise Tourism Policy had opened up huge potential for cruise
tourism. APTDC would be the first tourism body to introduce a luxury sea cruise liner.

Enclosure 2
Note on Cruise Tourism
We are reproducing herein some of the findings and recommendations from our study of tourism and
its impacts in the Andamans Islands and our analysis of cruise tourism based on experiences of
cruise tourism industry in the Caribbean islands.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Part 1: Study of Tourism in the Andaman Islands

O Serious consideration is being given to the development of the Andaman Islands as a cruise
tourism destination. In order to step up infrastructure facilities at Port Blair and create adequate
space and facilities for docking of large cruise liners, the Port Management Board is operationalising
a proposal of revamping the Port Blair Harbour and jetty.
O It has been reported that exhaust emissions from ships are a significant source of air pollution.
“Seagoing vessels are responsible for an estimated 14 percent of emissions of nitrogen from fossil
fuels and 16 percent of the emissions of sulphur from petroleum uses into the atmosphere. E.g. in
Europe ships make up a large percentage of sources of sulphur in the air, “…as much sulphur as
all the cars, lorries and factories in Europe put together “By 2010, up to 40% of air pollution over
land could come from ships.”
O The boats that ferry tourists to various tourist locations in the Andamans invariably end up spilling oil
and diesel into the sea. This is especially noticed near jetties where the boats are docked. While the
problem may not be very serious today, increased number of boats would have an adverse impact
on the marine ecosystems mainly from leakage of oil, grease and dumping of sewage
O For long term sustainability of tourism in Andamans, the A&NI Administration and tourism industry
will have to focus on small-scale ecologically sensitive, nature-based, low-volume tourism and say
no to infrastructure-heavy, high-volume tourism. Increased airports, cruise ships, more roads, more
boats, helicopters, amusement parks, permanent constructions and large capacity hotels are the
kind of trends that the islands must clearly refrain from. Current infrastructure requirements of the
tourism sector need to be accurately ascertained and future requirements outlaid based on
considerations of their impacts rather than mere allocations of infrastructure projects and schemes.
The sewage uses up dissolved oxygen in water and thus makes less of it available to the marine
organisms. The ballast water also has lot of oil and grease which will affect the ecosystems as
mentioned above.
O Another impact of boats is the damage to coral reefs by dropping of anchors.
O The plans of making the islands a part of a cruise tourism circuit in the country need to be
reconsidered from economic, environmental and social aspects. Experiences from the world’s
most popular cruise destinations such as the Caribbean Islands point to the paltry gains that
cruise tourism brings to local communities as all expenditure is made on board and there is little
“trickling down” to them. In addition, cruise ships bring large numbers of tourists for a short duration,
which will have implications on the carrying capacity of the location.

Part 2: Experience From Cruise Tourism in the Caribbean’s

We would like to caution the government of the need to carefully monitor and regulate cruise
tourism activities in the light of experiences of some of the world’s most popular cruise destinations in
the Caribbean. The experience with cruise tourism of international destinations like the Caribbean
reveals that
O Revenue spent on cruises often does not translate into local economy benefit.
O Cruise vessels make significant demands of port infrastructure. All ports need not be subjected to
this sort of intense physical infrastructure construction without certainty of whether it will prove at
the minimum economically viable or will simply distribute the traffic across different ports. The
ecological impacts of large cruise vessels docking at multiple points in the coast and the related
water and air pollution are also factors to be considered. Also, while it is accepted that water is the
cheapest mode of transport, there needs to be a clear distinction made between cruise tourism
and the use of internal water resources for inland navigation. The use of inland water bodies needs
to privilege needs of local communities for navigation and other purposes and like, use of coastal
beach stretches need to ensure access of local fishing communities to the sea.

Letter to Smt. J. Geeta Reddy, Tourism Minister, Andhra Pradesh on Concerns about the proposed Sea Cruise from Vizag to Andaman

O Cruise Tourism directly competes with local land-based tourism establishments, often to the
detriment of the latter. This is due to
X Direct benefits that cruise tourism brings to the local economies is lesser than land-based

tourism as cruise ships use local resources and employ local people to a lesser degree than
land based activities do.
X Cruises usually operate as package tours which provide the entire tourism experience of the

destination on board the ship itself including shopping for local handicrafts and souvenirs,
tasting the local cuisine and experiencing the local art and culture. This severely constrains
tourists from touring the actual destination physically and through this limits their
financial contribution to the local economy. Even if the ship docks and tourists are allowed to
explore the area, this is usually limited to the port area only.
X Their economic power has also enabled cruise ships to benefit from perpetrating false myths

among passengers about the safety of the destination and thereby encouraging them to continue
staying aboard. Some authors elucidate the point by highlighting that the major revenue-earner
for cruise ships is on-board revenues that approximate US $ 300 per passenger per day. In order
to increase the same, cruise ships were allowed to open bars, casinos and shops while they
remained docked. Caribbean Cruise companies also provide unique products to their
customers by taking them to ‘fantasy islands’, which are off limits for everybody but their
passengers and crew. The oligopolistic structure of the industry has also limited the ability of
small local entrepreneurs to make inroads into the mammoth billion-dollar industry and gain
meaningfully from it. Three giants – Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corporation and Princess had a
combined revenue figure of US $ 11.5 million in 2002 indicating the extent of monopoly profits
made. Additionally, cruise ships also result in large expenses for the government exchequer to
provide adequate port infrastructure.
O There is also now growing evidence to support the fact that alongside the Caribbean’s growing
cruise ship industry is the problem of unsightly and hazardous pollution mounting on sea
floors, in harbours and in coastal areas. Most pollution occurs because of the legal or illegal
dumping of waste by ships into ocean waters, which are then carried by strong winds to
the shores of islands. In a smaller portion but equally harmful is the pollution that ships cause at
harbours and coastal areas while docked. International cruise ship pollution is governed by the
MARPOL (Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matter) Protocol while ocean
dumping of waste is controlled by the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by
Dumping of Wastes and other Materials that permits ships to dump shredded glass and tin
and treat food waste into the oceans. But although most cruises are registered in countries
that are signatories to these international conventions, few ships actually have installed technology
to treat their wastes aboard before dumping them into the sea.
O Another interesting point to note is that even though governments are aware of the magnitude of the
problem, most Caribbean countries themselves are not signatories to these conventions. This is
because, the attempt to clean up the ocean, has also put extra strain on land-based facilities
of islands and countries are aware that signing MARPOL would oblige them to set up waste disposal
mechanisms on land to treat the wastes brought in by ships. In parallel, Cruise ships can mitigate
the problem by following a ‘Zero Discharge’ policy, but most are hesitant to execute this as this would
involve losing out valuable room space on board the ship to install treatment plants. The cruise ship
industry is also clear that even if it might make financial contributions towards waste disposal mechanisms
on shore, there would be no commitment for the inevitable transportation to and management of
landfills, or technical support to deal with other waste management concerns.
O Regulating cruise ship pollution is further impeded by the ambiguity concerning the
registration of many liners. This complicates matters as many cruise ships choose to
register or flag their ships outside their country of origin in order to take advantage of tax
incentives and cheaper labour for their crew. Such ambiguity over registration makes penalisation
difficult in cases where the law has held the ships guilty of polluting waters. Against this context,
the government needs to re-think its cruise tourism strategy and ensure the environmental
and economic sustainability of it as a model for local development through tourism.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Letter for improving availability of

information on environmental clearance
Letters on the MoEF Website
Letter to Shri. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State,
Ministry of Environment & Forests
30 September 2009

This is our letter to Shri. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment & Forests,
demanding transparency and public access in environment clearance process. Media reports that
the MoEF revamped its website in July 2009 to improve transparency in the environment clearance
process. Reasons raised are: unavailability of environmental clearance letters of projects cleared by
the Ministry, data deficiency on ‘new construction projects and industrial estates’ project category on
MoEF’s revamped website as on July 2009, no data on projects denied environmental clearance and
inaccurate listing of projects cleared.

Shri. Jairam Ramesh,

Minister of State,
Ministry of Environment & Forests,
Paryavaran Bhawan,
C.G.O Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi – 110003.

Sub: Regarding availability of information on environmental clearance letters on the Ministry of

Environment & Forests website.
Dear Shri. Ramesh,
EQUATIONS is a research, advocacy, and campaigning organisation working since 1985 on the
impacts of tourism, particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local communities. We work towards
tourism that is non-exploitative, sustainable, where decision-making is democratised and access to
and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed.
It was reported in the article titled ‘Environmental clearance process made more transparent’, Business
Line, dated 21st July 2009, that the Ministry was taking steps to increase transparency in the
environmental clearance process (enclosed). This included making available the environmental
clearance letters on the Ministry’s website. In addition, your answer to Mr. Mahendra Mohan’s question
in the Rajya Sabha, dated 20th July 2009, on ensuring transparency in environment clearance process,
points to the public and the Members of Parliament that information on the status of pending projects
and environmental clearance letters have been made available on the Ministry’s website (enclosed).
However, till date on accessing the Ministry’s website <http://www.envfor.nic.in/>, the environmental
clearance letters are unavailable for a large number of projects that have been cleared by the Ministry.
The revamped website continues to be data deficient, especially in the case of ‘new construction
projects and industrial estates’ project category. The environment clearance letters are unavailable
for atleast 70 projects under the same category. On accessing the environment clearance letters of

Letter for Improving Availability of Information on Environmental Clearance Letters on the MoEF Website

these projects all that is displayed are one-line statements such as, ‘this project has been approved’
or ‘null’ or ‘project cleared’ or ‘there is no letter’.
On accessing all project categories, the year wise listing of the projects is inaccurate and not according
to the year in which clearances were applied for or granted. Also, much of the data prior to the year
2004 is missing.
The website does not provide any listing of projects that were denied environmental clearance. This
information was available on the Ministry’s website before it was revamped in July 2009. For ensuring
transparency, it is equally important to provide information on projects that were denied a clearance
by the Ministry and to put their letters stating the reasons for denial on the website.
Due to all the above problems in the website it is extremely difficult to find any appropriate data. We
request you to look into these problems and ensure the promised transparency.
Shweta Narayan
Programme Associate

1. Business Line, Environmental clearance process made more transparent, 21 July 2009.
2. Response to Question number 1682, Rajya Sabha, 20th July 2009.

Copy to
1. Shri. Vijai Sharma, Secretary, MoEF

Enclosure no. 1
Environmental Clearance Process Made More Transparent
Business Line, Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Jul 21, 2009
Our Bureau
New Delhi, July 20 The Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to put information regarding
the clearance process on its Web site to increase transparency of the process.
Information relating to status of pending projects, schedule and agenda of the meeting of Expert Appraisal
Committees (EAC), minutes of the EAC meeting, environmental clearance letters, and circulars and
guidelines relating to Environmental Clearance would be available on the Ministry Web site.
The Minister of Environment and Forests, Mr Jairam Ramesh, also told Parliament that the Lower
Painganga Project in Maharashtra was accorded the environmental and in-principle forest clearance
in May 2007 and February 2009 respectively.
He added that two Special Economic Zone (SEZ) projects are awaiting environment clearance from
Gujarat. For the “PhaEZ Park” SEZ project requisite information had been received and proposal
would be included in the Expert Appraisal Committee for New Construction Projects and Industrial
Estates meeting scheduled to be held in August 2009. The SEZ project at Dahej is yet to submit the
site map, including areas falling under the Coastal Regulation Zone.
Business Line, ‘Environmental clearance process made more transparent’,
<http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2009/07/21/stories/2009072151741500.htm>, 21st July 2009.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Enclosure no. 2
Government of India
Ministry of Environment and Forests
Rajya Sabha
Question no 1682
Answered on 20.07.2009

Violation of Rules in Environmental Clearances

1682 Shri Mahendra Mohan
Will the Minister of Environment and Forests be pleased to satate:
(a) whether several NGOs have urged Government to look into the violation of rules while giving
environmental clearances;
(b) if so, the details thereof;
(c) whether Government proposes to ensure transparency in the environmental clearance process;
(d) if so, the details thereof?

Minister Of State (Independent Charge) For Environment & Forests
(Shri Jai Ram Ramesh)
(a) & (b) Ministry in the past, received some communications from NGOs complaining about the
violation of rules regarding matters such as non-implementation of conditions stipulated in the
environment clearance letter, non adherence to the prescribed standards, change in scope of the
project and change of project location. The complaints regarding violations are duly examined and
wherever necessary, site inspections are got conducted through the Regional Offices of this Ministry
as also the Central / State / Union Territory Pollution Control Boards. Inputs from the respective State
Governments are also obtained whenever required. The matters like those relating to change of
scope of the project or change of location, any complaints received before the grant of Environment
Clearance (EC) are referred to the Expert Appraisal Committees for obtaining their recommendations
before taking a decision.
(c) & (d) In order to increase transparency in the clearance process, the information has been put in
public domain, through the website of the Ministry, relating to
(i) status of pending projects,
(ii) schedule and agenda of the meeting of Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs),
(iii) minutes of the EAC meeting,
(iv) Environmental Clearance letters and
(v) circulars, guidelines, instructions relating to Environmental Clearance.
Source: <http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/>

Letter to Smt. Mamata Banerjee, Minister
of Railways Against Railway’s plan on
exclusive coaches for foreigners
2 November 2009

The Economic Times, dated 27.10.09 and Times of India, Bangalore edition, dated 29.10.09 reported
that the Ministry of Railways plans to add exclusive coaches for foreign tourists in normal trains. The
idea of ‘exclusive’ coaches for foreigners, in our opinion, is deep rooted in imperialism, racism and
casteism. We do not object to better facilities in general, but object to exclusive facilities on the basis
of nationality and citizenship.
Kumari Mamata Banerjee
Minister of Railways
Rail Bhavan,
1 Raisina Road
New Delhi- 110001
Sub: Railway’s plan on exclusive coaches for foreigners
Ref: “To earn more revenue, railways plan exclusive coaches for foreigners”, Economic Times 27.10.09
and Times of India dated 29.10.09
Dear Madam,
We learn from media reports in Economic Times, dated 27.10.09 and Times of India, Bangalore
edition, dated 29.10.09 that the Ministry of Railways plans to add exclusive coaches for foreign tourists
in normal trains (news article enclosed with this letter). According to the news report Shri
Shuvaprasanna, Chairman Public Amenities Committee, Ministry of Railways, Government of India,
is quoted as saying “the railway ministry was very positive to the committee’s recommendation”.
Madam, we are deeply shocked at this proposal.
To introduce ourselves, EQUATIONS, is a research, advocacy, and campaigning organisation working
since 1985 on the impacts of tourism, particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local communities.
We envision tourism that is non-exploitative, sustainable, where decision-making is democratised
and access to and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed. www.equitabletourism.org
The idea of ‘exclusive’ coaches for foreigners, in our opinion, is deep rooted in imperialism, racism
and casteism. Is the present government and your Ministry taking our country back to the colonial-era
when such exclusive spaces for the British ruling class had boards like ‘No Indians and Dogs allowed’.
The Ministry of Railways seems to have forgotten about how the ‘Father of the Nation’, Mahatma
Gandhi had decided to fight the colonial forces on experiencing similar discrimination on a train in
South Africa. In 1893, Gandhiji booked a first-class train ticket to Johannesburg – and was thrown out
of the coach because he was black. Today, when the country still struggles to ensure that millions of
its citizens have protection against various forms of discrimination still prevalent in large measure in
the country – the most prominent basis being caste, religion, gender and minority status - this step by
the Ministry of Railways is retrograde and shameful. We are not objecting to better facilities in general,
we are objecting to exclusive facilities on the basis of nationality and citizenship. We believe that such
a move can even be challenged constitutionally.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

If foreign tourists wish to experience India, we think they should experience the real India – not spaces
that are “sanitised from reality” and where the citizens of the country have no access! What kind of
vision of Incredible India is this?
We urge the Ministry to reverse this move with immediate effect.
Rosemary Viswanath
Chief Functionary

Copied to
O Kumari Selja , Minister of Tourism
O Shri Mukul Balkrishna Wasnik, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment

To Earn More Revenue, Rlys Plan Exclusive Coaches for Foreigners

27 Oct 2009

Mahendra Kumar Singh, NEW DELHI

Soon, a smart well-dressed girl will welcome foreign travellers in coaches exclusively reserved for
them in trains passing through tourist destinations.
The railways seems to be bullish on the prospects of attracting foreign tourists as the ministry is
considering a proposal to add exclusive coaches for foreign travellers with better facilities to attract
tourists and earn money.
As luxury trains have added a new dimension to the country’s tourism landscape, railways now wants
to promote tourism through normal trains by adding designer coaches with better facilities. The ambitious
plan to earn forex aims to develop tour packages connecting tourist places with trains and luxurious
buses keeping foreign tourists in mind for whom money is not a constraint.
To attract foreign travellers, these coaches will be designed to have more leg space, ergonomically
designed seats and toilets, wider sleeping berths and aesthetic interiors.
“The railway ministry was very positive to the committee’s recommendation,” said Shuvaprasanna,
chairman, public amenities committee (PAC) and close associate of railway minister Mamata Banerjee.
“We want bigger window panes in these coaches like most foreign trains so that travellers can enjoy
the country’s natural landscape,” Shuvaprasanna said. As of now, tourists can enjoy such lavish
facilities only in luxury tourist trains — Palace On Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, Royal Rajasthan on
Wheels, Fairy Queen and The Golden Chariot . Now, the plan is to extend it to other trains too.
The proposal envisages having well dressed attendants — young girls and boys — to make tourists’
journey more pleasant. The new coaches will also have mobile charging facilities in each cabin and
points to connect laptops.
The high profile committee has also suggested having call-bell facilities in toilets to assist elderly and
sick passengers.
There are also plans to promote tourism through rail in foreign countries by making literature, leaflets
and brochures available in major cities in Europe, US and South-East Asia, the places of high
tourist inflow. “We want domestic tourism to be managed in a more professional way,” the PAC
chairman said.

Letter to Editor Times of India
Against “Railways Plan Exclusive
Coaches for Foreigners”
4 November 2009

The Editor,
Times of India
40/1, S&B Towers
MG Road (Near Barton Centre)
Bangalore 560 001

Sub: Letter to Minister of Railways against “Railways plan exclusive coaches for Foreigners” as was
reported in your news paper, Times of India, Bangalore Edition, Dated 28th October 09, Page 13.
Dear Madam/Sir,
This is to bring to your notice that we have sent a protest letter to Kumari Mamata Banerjee, Minister
of Railways, Government of India against the proposed plan of the Ministry of Railway to add
exclusive coaches for foreigners in normal trains. This was based on the news article “Railways
plan exclusive coaches for Foreigners” as was reported in your news paper, Times of India, Bangalore
Edition, Dated 28th October 09, Page 13. The letter (a Xerox copy of the same) is attached herewith
for our perusal.
EQUATIONS, is a research, advocacy, and campaigning organisation working since 1985 on the
impacts of tourism, particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local communities. We envision
tourism that is non-exploitative, sustainable, where decision-making is democratised and access to
and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed. www.equitabletourism.org
The Ministry of Railways should reverse this move with immediate effect. We hope Times of India
Group will take firm stand against the proposal and build public opinion against any such move by the
Ministry of Railways.
Ananya Dasgupta
Programme Coordinator
Governance, Law and Tourism Programme

Enclosed: The Letter to Kumari Mamata Banerjee, Minister of Railways, Government of India, dated

Copied to: Editor, Economic Times with reference to the news item “To earn more revenue, rlys plan
exclusive coaches for foreigners” in Economic Times, dated 27 th October 09, http://

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Letter on Environmental Impacts of the

Proposed and Initiated Tourism
Developments at the Sardar Sarovar Dam
Letter to Shri. Devendra Pandey, Chairperson, Experts Committee on
Environmental Impacts of SSP, ISP and OSP
20 January 2010

Shri. Devendra Pandey,

Experts Committee on Environmental Impacts of SSP, ISP and OSP
Sub: Environmental impacts of the proposed and initiated tourism developments at the
Sardar Sarovar Dam
Dear Shri. Pandey,
We have learnt that the Environmental Experts Committee is undertaking the important task of
understanding and reviewing the environmental impacts of the Sardar Sarovar and Indrasagar project
and coming out with its Interim Report. We write to place before the Committee some serious concerns
related to tourism which we hope you will consider as an input to the Committee’s report.
To introduce ourselves, EQUATIONS is a research, advocacy, and campaigning organisation working
since 1985 on the impacts of tourism, particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local communities.
We envision tourism that is non-exploitative, sustainable, where decision-making is democratised
and access to and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed.
We are concerned about the tourism development proposed and initiated in the periphery of the
Sardar Sarovar Dam. In 1961, the Government of Gujarat acquired 1,600 acres of land from 950
families of the six villages of Kevadia, Waghodia, Kothi, Limdi, Navagam and Gora, under “public
purpose”. Of this 1400 acres remain unused. Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) and
the newly constituted Kevadia Area development Authority (KADA), is now proposing a tourism project
on the adivasi land in an attempt to ‘present the dam site in its pristine and natural glory, with nature
parks, planned gardens, woodlots, nature trails, an eco-museum and a panoramic view of the hills
which will captivate the tourist and hold him in awe of the benefits provided by the project’. Towards
this SSNNL had proposed to undertake massive tourism development. Initially these included hotels,
cottages, water-park, golf course, convention centre, water sports activities and cruises in the 150 km
stretch of dam reservoir. In Phase 1 restaurant and food-court, low-cost accommodation, rose-garden,
landscaping, souvenir and vendor stalls, 50 room hotels rooms and camping, adventure sports seem
to be planned. However it is not clear if resource and infrastructure heavy facilities such as water
parks, golf courses, convention centres will come up in Phase 2 or are not on the plans any longer.
Information about this is not available in the public domain. Neither is there any mention of assessing
the environmental impacts of these facilities.
Tourism rests heavily on availability of pristine natural resources. Unregulated tourism development
is known to have negative environmental impacts caused by pollution, waste generation, discharge
of untreated waste into water bodies, large energy and water consumption requirements and tend
to deplete ground water. This in turn puts at risk livelihoods of local communities who depend on
the natural resources for sustenance. As tourism grows the competition between tourism industry

Letter on Environmental Impacts of the Proposed and Initiated Tourism Developments at the Sardar Sarovar Dam

and local community for access to and use of natural resources increases. As the industry is bigger
and more powerful it is usually vulnerable local communities that bear the ‘costs’ of such
Tourism projects like golf courses, water parks are known to be infrastructure and resource use
heavy. These are known to cause significant ground water depletion and pollution of water tables.
Leisure and recreational activities such as those promoted in this area are also known to cause
environmental damage, noise pollution, huge amounts of non-degradable waste when tourist numbers
exceed carrying capacity of the sites. This sadly is a common enough feature of almost every popular
tourism site in our country. Therefore unless waterfront resorts, island restaurants, water sports,
houseboats, cruises and adventure activities in the reservoir are regulated they can have significant
negative impacts on the ecology.
Thus our concerns are several:
1. Tourism is being planned and implemented without taking into account the rights, livelihood and
displacement of local communities.
2. The nature of tourism products planned are infrastructure and resource heavy and do not seem to
consider their significant adverse environmental impacts. There is no evidence of prior assessment
of such impacts.
3. There is no evidence of studying and understanding the carrying capacity / limits of acceptable
change in terms of number of tourists visiting the region.
4. The concentration / density of the various tourism products offered within a small area will also
add to the negative environmental impacts.
Many of our concerns and suggestions come from our work on tourism impacts in different parts of
the country. However in particular we would like to draw your attention to research Public Purpose
which is enclosed. While we have highlighted in this letter to you some of the concerns related to
environmental issues our research covers many critical areas of human rights, participation of local
community and the role of panchayats. This report is also available in Gujarati and Hindi (available on
our website www.equitabletourism.org).
We do hope that you will consider our inputs. We would be happy to respond to any queries /
Aditi Chanchani
Coordinator Programmes

1. EQUATIONS (2008), ‘Public Purpose?’
2. EQUATIONS (2009), Public Purpose? Update – March 2009

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Comments to MoEF on Draft Summary

Report of the World Bank Assisted Integrated
Coastal Zone Management Project
28 December 2009

This is our letter to Shri. Senthil Vel, Additional Director, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF),
demanding that proceedings on Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZM) should stop
until the public consultations on Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification are completed. The
public consultations were started by the MoEF to strengthen the CRZ Notification following the lapse
of the draft Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification, 2008. The MoEF had invited public
comments on the Draft Summary Report of (ICZM) Project to be piloted in three states of Gujarat,
Orissa and West Bengal.The backdoor entry of the ICZM is unethical.
Dr. A. Senthil Vel,
Additional Director,
Ministry of Environment & Forests,
Paryavaran Bhavan, New Delhi.
Sub: Comments on the Draft Summary Report of the World Bank Assisted Integrated Coastal Zone
Management Project Environment & Social Assessment
Dear Dr. Senthil,
Greetings from EQUATIONS!
We are deeply concerned on the move by the Ministry of Environment & Forests to go ahead in
building national capacity for implementation of the new integrated management approach for India’s
coastal zones and piloting the Integrated Coastal Zone Management ICZM) approach in three states
of Gujarat, Orissa and West Bengal.
The very concept of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) was pushed in the terms of reference
given to Dr. Swaminathan Committee which was constituted by MoEF in July 2004 to review the
reports of various committees appointed by the MoEF on coastal zone management, international
practises and suggest the scientific principles for an integrated coastal zone management best suited
for the country. Based on this Dr. Swaminathan Committee recommended for the integrated coastal
zone management approach in February 2005. The draft Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification,
2008 which again mooted the idea of ICZM was then widely critiqued by associations, movement and
networks of coastal community and civil society organisations, fish workers forum, academic
organisations and UN agencies on its claims of being scientific and trying to infuse scientific aspects
in coastal protection with integrated coastal zone management processes.
After the Ministry lapsing the draft CMZ notification on 22nd July 2009 and holding consultations for
strengthening the existing CRZ notification, the push for the implementation of ICZM projects through
back door is unethical. We understand from the World Bank website that the idea of this project was
initiated in 2007 itself.
We are enclosing our comments on the Draft Summary Report of the World Bank Assisted Integrated
Coastal Zone Management Project Environment & Social Assessment while we urge you to stop any
proceedings on this project until the consultations on CRZ to strengthen it are through.
Saroop Roy B.R.

Comments to MoEF On Draft Summary Report of the World Bank Assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project

Comments to the Draft Summary Report of the World Bank Assisted Integrated Coastal
Zone Management Project Environment & Social Assessment
This brief paper is our comments to the Ministry of Environment and Forests on the Draft Summary
Report of the World Bank Assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project’ Environment and
Social Assessment.
The Central government move to build national capacity for implementation of the new integrated
management approach for India’s coastal zones and piloting the Integrated Coastal Zone Management
(ICZM) approach in the three states of Gujarat, Orissa and West Bengal is dubious with the draft
Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification lapsing in 2009. The concept of Integrated Coastal
Zone Management Plan was mooted in the draft CMZ Notification. Civil society groups have raised
concerns on the CMZ notification and the need to strengthen the existing CRZ notification. Point no.
8 of the draft summary of the World Bank assisted ICZM says the ‘GoI has already initiated steps
to operationalize one part of the agenda, which is to create a suitable policy environment for
integrated management of coastal and marine area’. Allowing commercial activities in the coast and
then manage them is in sharp conflict to the philosophy of CRZ Notification, conservation of the coast.
Although the MoEF has allowed the lapse of the proposed CMZ notification, the process to strengthen
the existing CRZ notification by taking in the concerns of the coastal communities, initiated by the
MoEF is yet to be completed in all the proposed 10 states. Then the need for ICZM projects in pilot
states for replication at national level is contradictory.

Project Description
Mapping, delineation and demarcation of hazard line: The hazard line proposed here is to be determined
on the basis of vulnerability of the coast to sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding, and thus bears
similarity to the setback line proposed in the draft CMZ Notification. Therefore it is not definite and will
vary from place to place even within Panchayat limits. ‘Multi stakeholder opinions on setback lines
raised in various consultations on CMZ should also be addressed by the MoEF, before demarcation of
the hazard lines’. In the stakeholder meetings conducted by CEE (9th August 2008) on behalf of
MoEF in Tamil Nadu, concerns of setback line overtaking rights of local Panchayats were raised. It is
important to address these concerns to prevent violation of 73rd and 74th Amendment and usurpation
of rights bestowed on Local Self Governing Institutions. In Kerala Meeting 13 August 2008, Dr. N. R.
Menon had said “setback line, which is to be based on data of about 100 years, it should be noted that
the temperature in the tropics 100 years back was 4 degrees less. It is likely to increase by at least 4
degrees in another 100 years. Hence it will have to be reviewed periodically in view of the climate
change phenomenon and cannot be fixed permanently.” Over all the consultations have a common
demand, for taking into consideration the concerns of the local communities while deciding the setback
line. Moreover the Ministry of Agriculture has said that the definition of setback line is ambiguous and
therefore could easily be misinterpreted1 .
Mapping, delineation and demarcation, as required, of the ESAs: The report says that contiguous
areas containing ESAs within the coastal management zone will be designated as CRZ-I and MoEF
will assume the management responsibilities of the area. With the MoEF taking full control of the
planning, decision making and implementation of projects in the region, in the case of ESAs in forest
areas, the rights of the Grama Sabha passing resolution recommending whose rights to which resources
should be recognised granted through Forest Rights Act is apprehended.
Piloting ICZM approaches in Gujarat, West Bengal & Orissa
The pilot areas proposed for World Bank aided implementation of ICZM are in states of Gujarat,
Orissa and West Bengal. Interestingly these are also the states which are pushing for investment
led development by effecting changes to make investor friendly reforms and has already taken
financial aid from World Bank for different projects. The ICZM project seeks to use tourism also as

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

tool to create livelihood opportunities for local communities. Interestingly, in West Bengal the state
government in this year has already commissioned the World Bank to undertake an ecotourism and
sustainable tourism potential assessment of Sundarbans National Park and surrounding areas to
develop an implementable tourism development plan within the World Bank’s social and environment
safeguards framework.
The pilot sites in the chosen states are not only eco-sensitive but also witnessing massive tourism
growth. For example Chilika in Orissa, Sunderbans in West Bengal. Therefore the question of choosing
these states and sites appears to be more investment oriented than of conservation. The map showing
ICZM Project India indicates that one of the targeted areas is in the border areas adjoining Orissa and
West Bengal. That is the area where Mandarmani is located - a coastal village that is experiencing a
surge in tourism investment since last few years. Rampant exploitation of the coast by the tourism
industry is evident from reports in the state and the state government have completely failed in stopping
any of these violations.
Through the ICZM project the government proposes to use ecotourism and tourism for providing
livelihood security to fisher communities. The proposal acknowledges (Point nos. 3 & 5), the detrimental
impacts of tourism and unplanned growth of tourism infrastructure on the coastal ecology such as
degradation of the coasts, conflicts amongst stakeholders and increase pressure on coastal areas.
However it again adopts tourism (small scale or ecotourism) to provide livelihood security to coastal
communities who are most vulnerable to not only developmental activities but also to effects of climate
change. Tourism is seasonal and vulnerable to external and internal impacts like disasters (tsunami,
earthquake) health epidemics like SARS or chikungunya, political tensions (riots and terror threats)
etc. In such circumstances, often it is the tourism initiatives by local people who are the first affected
either by a loss of employment or steep income reductions. In that case the role of the government will
be to put in efforts towards strengthening primary sources of income like fisheries and not promoting
tourism as a secured livelihood option. More over tourism is an industry that requires specialised
skills in marketing and its promotion and opening up sectors like tourism for the coastal communities
under the circumstances is not advisable.
There is also lack of clarity in the agency implementing livelihood security of the local communities in
West Bengal. There exists no such Corporation as “Sunderbans Development Corporation” as
mentioned in the report who is designated to undertake a pilot work in Shore line protection in southern
end of Sagar islands. The project is keen on establishing linkages with Development Corporations
and Development Authorities but not with local self governance institutions, except with Jamnagar
Municipal Corporation, at Jamnagar, Gujarat. The model of Development Authorities fits well with the
International Financial Institutions arguing for a centralised system towards administration of power
and decision making!
It proposes to ‘facilitate investment in financing conservation of the ecologically sensitive areas
over the current state of regulatory protection only’. With the statement we assume that the
government plans to introduce market driven conservation approach – ecotourism in these areas. It is
positive to note that the project questions the possibility of the ICZM resulting loss of livelihoods and
traditional access to coastal areas and marine resources. The ICZM seeks to secure livelihoods of
local communities by making planning of the ICZM a participatory process based on wide stakeholder
consultations. Consultations on environmental and social assessments with stakeholders in all 3
States have pointed out that ecotourism can lead to conflicts, air, noise and water pollution (oil spill
from boats) and biodiversity loss if not planned properly. They also highlight on a priority waste
management in ecotourism areas. Particularly in West Bengal ‘tourist accommodation and Waste
disposal system during festival periods is not managed properly now creating pollution’. The
question thus arise, is ecotourism a tool for conservation and livelihoods or additional pressure on
coastal ecosystems.

Comments to MoEF On Draft Summary Report of the World Bank Assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project

Environment and Social Assessment Process

The Project summary states that the pilot states have prepared detailed project reports containing
environmental and social impact assessments for the investment areas. These are not available
in the project summary and therefore should be made available to local communities and public
for wide debate.
The key highlight of the environment and social assessment conducted by Centre for Environment
and Development, Thiruvananthapuram states that, “the major issue of the exposure of the
currently protected ecologically sensitive areas to exploitation if decentralized planning and
management of coastal zones is accepted”. Contrary to this, the demand by fisher folk communities
for involvement in activities to check sea erosion, being not consulted by government even though
they are worst effected, shows that people are willing to participate in conservation activities if they
are provided the platforms to participate2 .

General comments
O Only the project summary is available on the MoEF website and not the entire report as said in the
notice. For public debate these should be made available on website and at regional government
offices for public access.
O A good point which is acknowledged by the project is that it supports strengthening of the existing
CRZ Notification, 1991.
O The Government of India recognising one of the three prime objectives of ICZM plans as to ensure
that livelihood of the coastal communities is secured is commendable.
O The project summary has taken into consideration only the consultations conducted by CEE on
behalf of MoEF till 2008 in different states. However other major public’s opposition to the CMZ
notification that resulted in the consequent lapse of the CMZ notification is not taken into
O The management approach adopted by the ICZM is not in line with the existing regulatory framework
effected by the CRZ notification. Therefore the proposal of the MoEF to implement a project that is
based on the parameters of the lapsed CMZ notification is contrary to the MoEF’s decisions and
against larger opinions of the public.
You may reproduce this paper/publication in whole or in part for educational, advocacy or not-for-
profit purposes. We would appreciate acknowledging EQUATIONS as the source and letting us
know of the use.

Ministry of Environment and Forests (2009), ‘FINAL FRONTIER, Agenda to protect the ecosystem and habitat of India’s
coast for conservation and livelihood security’, Annexure III, Ministry of Environment and Forests, July 16, 2009, New
Delhi, Pg 33,draft Coastal Management Zone (CMZ).
<http://www.ceeindia.org/cee/pdf_files/Review%20Committee%20Report%20on%20CMZ.pdf > , data retrieved 23
December 2009.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Press Release: Child Labour:

An Ugly Face of Tourism Exploitation
of Children Through Labour in Tourism
11 June 2009

Bangalore, India – India has the distinction of the largest number of working children in the world
today. As per International Labour Organization official statistics working children in India is about
12.6 million children.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in India and has received much impetus from the
government as it is seen as a major contributor to the economy. But close scrutiny reveals that tourism
has various social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts. Tourism by nature is resource
consumptive, both natural and human resource. The ban on employment of children in domestic and
hospitality sector imposed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India in 2006 is
an acknowledgement of the fact that tourism as an industry has extensively exploited child labour.
Tourism and hospitality sector has been recognised as one of the hazardous sectors where children
should not be employed.
It is widespread to see children in the tourism sector working in abysmal conditions in small restaurants
and shacks, selling curios and trinkets in tourism areas and beaches, rag pickers, tourist guides, or
begging rich tourists for money. In hotels, children work as bell-boys, waiters and waitresses, maids,
house keeping workers while in catering, many are kitchen helpers or dish-washers or servers. Children
also work as masseurs and prostitutes. In the travel business they work as porters and coolies, cleaners
and assistants and for carrying loads on treks. Most of these children work in extremely difficult
working conditions. These children do not have protection for their long strained working hours which
is in most cases under unhealthy and dangerous conditions and also most often under intimidation.
This results in poor physical and psychological health of the children. Children involved in tourism
related work run extra risk of being sexually exploited due to constant exposure and involvement with
strangers, many of whom often frequent places with the intention of exploiting children. For instance,
children employed in roadside eateries and highway dhabas come in contact with both locals and
tourists. In the process they are exposed to sexual abuse and drug abuse and thereby highly vulnerable
to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.
The Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment banned employment of children as
workers in roadside eateries, teashops, restaurants, hotels etc along with other sectors, to be effective
from October 2006. The Notification is recognition by the Government that child labour exists in these
sectors and these children are exploited sexually, physically and mentally. In addition to that some
states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have
come out with State Action Plans to eliminate child Labour. The question arises – have these plans
been implemented or they are just paper tigers? To take the example of Karnataka, the Action Plan to
Eliminate Child Labour in Karnataka 2002-2007 was brought in 2002. In 2008, the government of
Karnataka expressed their inability to implement the plan of action due to resource crunch and have
just extended the implementation period of the same plan to 2008-12. Therefore the question arises is
the government truly committed on this issue. When questioned the authorities both at the centre and
the state level showcases that the commitment of the government is shown from the fact that India is

Press Release: Child Labour: An Ugly Face of Tourism Exploitation of Children Through Labour in Tourism

a signatory to three International Conventions related to child labour, namely, ILO Forced Labour
Convention (No. 29); ILO Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No. 105); UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CRC). Just ratification is meaningless unless government comes out with proper
policies to eradicate child labour and also implements it effectively.
It is important to mention that Government has also not ratified two important international conventions
on child labour of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). These conventions clearly specifies what
combating child labour should amount to in practice. These are the “Minimum Age Convention” (No.138)1
and the Convention on the “Worst Forms of Child Labour” (No. 182)2. These Conventions have been
jointly drafted in the ILO by national governments, employer’s associations and trade unions. The
government and industry are both therefore politically and morally obliged to implement them.
Research across the country has shown that keeping the age for child labour as 14 years should be
changed as India is a signatory to the UNCRC were we have agree the age of child to be upto 18
years. In India a child is defined differently in various legislations which create hindrance for the
implementation of the protection of children and for the convergence between the various Ministries
and Departments who are responsible to tackle the issue of child labour in the country.
Any move by the Government particularly in the context of the need for stern and defined measures
to stop exploitation of children has always been supported by the Civil Society Organizations in the
country. With respect to the implementation of this ban once again the government has failed to
demonstrate serious intent. In the name of effective implementation of the ban, children are picked
up from the streets, from small hotels, road side eateries and put in rehabilitation and juvenile homes.
Given the way these homes are run, they are not protected from abuse and exploitation. This does
nothing but the actual problem is pushed underground. It is important that the government has
implementable mechanisms where the children can be reunited with communities and families rather
than institutionalised mechanisms.
In Guruvayoor-Kerala and Tirupati-Andhra Pradesh and Puri-Orissa EQUATIONS research tilted
“Unholy Nexus: Male Child Sexual Exploitation in Pilgrim Tourism Sites in India: Andhra Pradesh,
Kerala and Orissa research done by EQUATIONS in collaboration with ECPAT INTERNATIONAL,
June 2008 published in March 2009” ‘shows that in order to be seen implementing the ban, children
are picked up from the streets, from small hotels, road side eateries and put them into rehabilitation
and juvenile homes. As a result, child abuse cases have become even more hidden and covert.
This ban is being seen as a tool by the government to curb the menace of child labour but does not
address the issues behind the problem. Inspite of recognizing the factor that poverty in the family in
most cases pushes the children to work, no measures have been taken to address this larger issue.
Even if a child is rescued and sent back to the family, actual rehabilitation can never take place unless
and until the poverty and thereby the means of livelihood for the family are not thought about and
taken care. The child is surely to be pushed back into work, in some other location and sector.
Thus, two and half years down the line, post the ban, enormous challenges remain in translating the
law into practice. The concerns expressed by many child rights activists that the blanket ban without
understanding the root causes of child labour would only push the problems into more dangerous
ways underground have unfortunately proved true. Available data and estimates indicate that very
few cases have been registered in the past year on account of this ban. Many children are still being
seen at work in restaurants, hotels, tea stalls, etc. all over the country. While the ban evoked responses
from a wide range of actors particularly NGO’s and civil society organisations working on child rights,
the Ministry of Tourism and the tourism industry have been silent spectators and kept conspicuously
silent to various forms of exploitation of children in tourism, including sexual exploitation of children
and exploitation of children through child labour.

Working Paper Series 2009–2010

Way Ahead
Follow the Guidelines Issued By National Commission For Protection Of Child Rights On Abolition Of
Child Labour in 2008. This guideline states the provisions for Enforcement of law, Provision of
Education and Rehabilitation, Campaign and Public Awareness and Coordinated Action at all
Levels. The time has come that the policies and legislations are not only formulated but implemented
in right spirit and effectively. There is a need for all, government, Civil Society actors and the industry
to join hands to stop all forms of exploitation of children, including child labour. Unless the process is
initiated immediately, the deprivation and exploitation of the children will continue, resulting in lost of
our tomorrow and their today.
For further information:
S. Vidya, Programme Coordinator, Child & Tourism Programme, EQUATIONS, email
vidya.s@equitabletourism.org or info@equitabletourism.org, tel +91-80-25457607/25457659.

Convention No. 138 has been ratified by over 143 countries.

Convention No, 182 has been ratified by over 158 countries.

EQUATIONS is a research, advocacy and campaigning
organisation working since 1985 on the impacts of tourism
particularly in terms of rights and benefits to local
communities. We envision tourism that is sustainable & non
exploitative, where decision making is democratised and
Who Really Benefits from Tourism?
access to and benefits of tourism are equitably distributed.
EQUATIONS critique on tourism development

Networking Research Campaigns Advocacy

Working Paper Series

Equitable Tourism Options

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Phone: +91.80.25457607 / 25457659, Fax:+91.80.25457665,
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