Surviving in the Sundarbans: Threats and Responses


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SURVIVING IN THE SUNDARBANS: THREATS AND RESPONSES focuses on the conduct of different groups and various agencies, and attempts to understand this conduct in the context of deteriorating ecosystem integrity, and heightened vulnerability of human society, where natural processes are averse to human presence, and where the development process is weak.
The study explores the socio-political and physical complexities within which sustainable development strategies need to be developed. The emphasis is not so much on how to develop these strategies but on understanding the contrasting forces, competing interests, and contradictions in operation.
In this study the concept of collective or self-organised action is used as an analytical tool to help unravel the complex interactions that take place at different levels and to shed light on conditions associated with better management of the various contradictions at play in the eco-region.
It is argued that the unique eco-region of the Sundarbans requires special policy measures to address ecological sustainability and distributional equity, to overcome the ills that undermine human well-being, and to ensure that people of this eco-region have the choices to live the way they like and value what they have reason to value.

DANDA

Surviving in the Sundarbans: Threats and Responses

Surviving in the Sundarbans: Threats and Responses

2007

SURVIVING IN THE SUNDARBANS: THREATS AND RESPONSES An analytical description of life in an Indian riparian commons
DISSERTATION
to obtain the doctor´s degree at the University of Twente,
on the authority of the rector magnificus, prof. dr. W.H.M.Zijm
on account of the decision of the graduation committee, to be publicly defended
on Thursday, 27 September, 2007 at 16.45
by Anamitra Anurag Danda born on 1 January, 1969
in Jhargram, India

This thesis has been approved by the promoter prof.dr. N.G. Schulte Nordholt
and the assistant promotor dr. M. Skutsch

Samenstelling promotiecommissie:

Voorzitter: prof.dr. P.J.J.M. van Loon

Secretaris: prof.dr. P.J.J.M. van Loon

Promotor:

prof.dr. N.G. Schulte Nordholt

Ass. Promoter: dr. M. Skutsch

Referent:

dr. A.K. Ghosh

Leden:

prof.dr. J.Th.A. Bressers prof.dr. J.C. Lovett prof.dr. J.B. Opschoor

Universiteit Twente
Universiteit Twente
Universiteit Twente
Universiteit Twente
Centre for Environment and Development, Kolkata
Universiteit Twente Universiteit Twente/University of York Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam/Institute of Social Sciences The Hague

The doctoral research and preparation of this dissertation was supported by TSD (Technology and Sustainable Development Group), University of Twente and KuSiNi (Centre for Knowledge on Sustainable Governance and Natural Resources Management).
Danda, A.A. 2007 Surviving in the Sundarbans: Threats and responses ISBN: 90-365-2566-4 Keywords: Collective action, governance of commons, sustainable development, Sundarbans.
Copyright © 2007. Anamitra Anurag Danda. Contact address: Flat 4B, 102 Jodhpur Park, Kolkata 700068, India e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected] All rights reserved. Subject to exceptions provided for by law, no part of this publication may be reproduced in retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. No part of this publication may be adapted in whole or in part without the prior written permission of the author.
Illustrations: Arnab Roy Dutch translation (Summary): Tristan Staal Cover design: Abhijit Choudhury, Subir Maitra Printed by YES in Kolkata, India.

Table of Contents

List of tables

viii

List of figures

viii

List of photographs

viii

Acronyms and abbreviations

ix

Glossary of non-English words

xi

Acknowledgements

xii

Preface

xiv

1 Introduction and problem definition

1

1.1 Introduction

1

1.2 Background

3

1.3 Problem definition

6

1.4 Research question and structure

8

1.5 Methods used

10

2 Conceptual framework

15

2.1 Introduction

15

2.2 The commons as an analytical framework

15

2.3 Collective action

16

2.4 Sustainability and sustainable development

20

2.5 Research objectives and questions

23

3 Setting

27

3.1 Introduction

27

3.2 Sundarbans eco-region

27

3.3 Transformation of the eco-region

28

3.3.1 Forest to agriculture

28

3.3.2 Resource access regime

30

3.3.3 Protection regime

33

v

3.4 Administering Sundarbans

36

3.5 Sundarbans as home

38

3.6 Field research sites

42

4 Embankment: The very basis of human habitation in the

Sundarbans

51

4.1 Introduction

51

4.2 Significance of embankments

51

4.3 Maintenance and management of embankments

55

4.4 Negotiating embankment collapse

55

4.5 Analysis

61

5 Transport and communication: limited mobility,

limited choices

65

5.1 Introduction

65

5.2 The state of transport and communication in the Sundarbans 65

5.2.1 Transport

65

5.2.2 Communication

72

5.3 Collective action and public-good

74

5.4 Analysis

77

6 Access to modern energy services

79

6.1 Introduction

79

6.2 Energy use in the Sundarbans

81

6.3 Rural electrification in the Sundarbans

82

6.3.1 Electrification of Mousuni Island (Bagdanga)

85

6.3.2 Electrification of Mollakhali Island (Chotomollakhali) 87

6.4 Analysis

90

6.5 Postscript

93

7 Agriculture

95

7.1 Introduction

95

7.2 Agriculture in the Sundarbans

97

7.3 Collective action in agriculture

101

7.4 Negotiating a dilemma

105

7.5 Analysis

107

8 Aquaculture

111

8.1 Introduction

111

8.2 Brackish water aquaculture in the Sundarbans

112

8.3 Collection of tiger shrimp seed from the wild

115

8.4 Collective action in shrimp seed collection

121

8.5 Analysis

123

vi

9 Tourism

125

9.1 Introduction

125

9.2 Tourism in the Sundarbans

125

9.3 Frame of reference

127

9.3.1 Tourism as an economic force

127

9.3.2 Sustainable tourism

128

9.3.3 Tourism commons

129

9.4 Small tourism initiative: Sundarbans Jungle Camp

130

9.5 Analysis

133

10 Conclusions, reflections and recommendations

137

10.1 Introduction

137

10.2 Answering research questions

137

10.2.1 Scientific research questions

137

10.2.2 Policy questions

145

10.3 Reflections

148

10.4 For the consideration of policy-makers

151

10.5 Epilogue

154

References

157

Annexure

Annexure I: 73rd Amendment and the Schedule XI of the

Constitution of India

163

Annexure II: Administrative and demographic details of

Sundarbans de facto and file research islands

167

Annexure III: A glimpse of Daniel Hamilton's estate in Gosaba

171

Annexure IV: Raychaudhuri, Bikash. (1980). The Moon and Net: Study

of transient community of fishermen at Jambudwip

173

Annexure V: Bibliography of Sundarbans

175

Indices

Subject Index

179

Author Index

189

Summaries

Summary (English)

191

Samenvatting

195

vii

List of tables

Table 2.1 Facilitating conditions for managing commons dilemmas

19

Table 4.1 Embankment collapse and its consequences

54

Table 6.1 Details of power stations on field study islands

84

Table 7.1 Price realisation by farmers and producer's share in consumer's price 102

Table 7.2 Landholding and occupational details of respondents

103

Table 8.1 State-wise details of shrimp culture and productivity

114

List of figures

Figure 2.1 Semantics of sustainable development

22

Figure 3.1 Sundarbans eco-region with field study sites

46

Figure 3.2 The Dampier-Hodges line demarcates the

boundary of Sundarbans eco-region

47

Figure 3.3 Sundarbans de facto and other reference points

48

Figure 3.4 Mollakhali Island

49

Figure 3.5 Mousuni Island

50

Figure 4.1 Normal geomorphic processes hindered by human settlements

53

Figure 8.1 Drag-net

116

Figure 8.2 Shoot-net

117

Figure 8.3 Fixed shoot-net

118

List of photographs

Photo 1.1 Government hoarding exhorting protection of Sundarbans

7

Photo 3.1 Beards of male deities denote Islamic influence

45

Photo 4.1 Embankments in field study islands

53

Photo 4.2 Embankment on the verge of collapse

56

Photo 4.3 Paddy land inundated with saline water

60

Photo 5.1 Crossing River Matla at low tide

66

Photo 5.2 'Engine van'

67

Photo 5.3 News clipping depicting a 'trekker'

67

Photo 5.4 Watercrafts of Sundarbans

68

Photo 5.5 The jetty at Bagdanga Market that can be seldom used

70

Photo 5.6 Passengers disembarking during low tide at Mollakhali Bazaar

72

Photo 6.1 Empty LPG cylinders being transported from Gosaba

83

viii

ADB ADO AGCs BMC BNWCS BPHC BPL BSF CITES
CPI(M) CPR CRZ CSO DDG EDC FAO FD FPC GoI GoWB GP Ha HDPE IBWL ICDP IFAD iNGO IUCN kW LPG

Acronyms and abbreviations
Asian Development Bank Agriculture Development Officer Agriculture Growth Centres Biodiversity Management Committee Bali Nature and Wildlife Conservation Society Block Primary Health Centre Below Poverty Line Border Security Force Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Communist Party of India (Marxist) Common-pool resource Coastal Regulation Zone Civil society organisation Decentralised Distributed Generation Eco-development Committee Food and agriculture organisation Forest Department Forest Protection Committee Government of India Government of West Bengal Gram Panchayat Hectare High-density polyethylene Indian Board for Wild Life Integrated Conservation and Development Plan International Fund for Agricultural Development International NGO World Conservation Union Kilowatt Liquefied petroleum gas

ix

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Surviving in the Sundarbans: Threats and Responses