Examining the nature and level of participation in community-based natural resource management - a case study of Ramgarh micro-hydropower project, Nainital, India
thesisposted on 2017-11-21, 06:04 authored by Taneja, Jitender
This study examined the nature and level of participation in a community-based natural resource management project. It is based on the premise that low levels of public participation are found in community-based natural resource management projects, as highlighted in the literature available on this issue. At times, it was documented that resident populations became involved, as the government could not manage the vast extent of available natural resources. Hence it became clear that not involving residents (who are also users of the natural resource) and addressing their requirements could lead to the failure of a specific project. It is therefore important to reflect on the importance of sustainable collaboration between the government authorities and the local people for the effective management of natural resources. This understanding became the motivation to analyze the principles of public participation as designed for a successful community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) project in-depth. There are a number of CBNRM principles but the principle of public participation appeared to be one of the most important for this case study for which the Ramgarh micro-hydropower project was selected. It lies in the Nainital district in India that is in the western Himalayan Range. A conceptual framework with various dimensions of public participation was developed by adapting Arnstein’s ladder of participation that appeared in a paper published in 1960. It was then applied in this instance to determine the involvement of the resident villagers in the Ramgarh micro-hydropower project. Participants of this study included members of the Ramgarh Energy Committee (REC). The results revealed that the residents did have major roles to play in the project and were also involved in the decision-making processes. This indicates a high level of public participation in the project and the participation of residents was representative. Only the members of the REC used to participate in the meetings that used to take place for making decisions related to the Ramgarh project. It should, however, be understood that, to involve all the villagers in the decision-making processes is a practical impossibility, because not everyone would always be free to attend every meeting held. These meetings required investment of time and money, and involving all the residents might not always have been possible. REC however, invites all residents in the annual meetings where the REC members discuss the progress of the project with them and also listen to their issues if any. Data collected did not fully support the claims the members of the managing committee made that the committee did resolve all the issues. It is unclear whether all residents were happy with the project as sufficient data to support this claim unequivocally was not forthcoming. However, the participants did provide statements to support its validity. This study provides an example of collaboration between residents and the government in which the residents are also involved in the decision-making processes related to a project. Much can be learnt from this work, and its findings can be applied to other projects to improve the level of participation of residents in the area where they are located. Furthermore, it is evident from this research study that there is potential to extend the scope for research related to different principles of community-based natural resource management. May this work also attract the attention of the people whose concern it is to explore ways of improving participatory approaches in the management of natural resources.
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