Village Commons, Livelihoods and Governance: An Assessment of Karnataka’s Experience

  • Sharachchandra Lele
  • Seema Purushothaman
  • Sham Kashyap


While the performance of self-help groups as institutions for natural resource management and livelihood generation leaves much to be desired, the more traditional institutional arrangement for reconciling these objectives, in the form of common property land resources, is gradually being undermined. In this chapter, the authors examine this institutional lacuna in the context of Karnataka. Common property land resources (CPLRs) are defined as all common land resources to which the public or some communities have de facto access, irrespective of the rights of exclusion, management or alienation. The wider academic literature contains debates about the usefulness of CPLRs, with advocates pointing to CPLRs as social safety nets, and critics favouring privatisation and individual land grants on the basis of efficiency, especially in light of increasing developmental pressures and consequent markets for land. How the problem is framed (CPLRs for what?) and how institutional arrangements are taken into account in evaluating economic outcomes of current and alternative models of CPLR governance will critically influence the outcome of this debate. There is enormous diversity and complexity in tenure regimes under the broad category of CPLRs and wide variation in their spatial distribution. Temporally there are evidences for consistent decline in certain CPLRs due to state give aways and for declining CPLR dependence as well, although this is sometimes a consequence of privatisation. The historical endowment of CPLRs varies geographically and temporally, and they generate significant use and non-use values at local and global scales. Using a clear normative framework, the chapter looks at the drivers of change in the extent and condition of CPLR, as well as at the ecological and distributional impacts of these changes. This chapter then looks at the governance reforms that may be necessary to manage and prevent conversion of CPLRs as well as to revive stakeholder interest. While examining these debates in the context of Karnataka’s CPLRs, we find an undiminished need to have well-managed rural CPLRs.


Public Land Grazing Land Forest Department Special Economic Zone Common Land 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharachchandra Lele
    • 1
  • Seema Purushothaman
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sham Kashyap
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Environment and DevelopmentAshoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the EnvironmentBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Azim Premji UniversityBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the EnvironmentBangaloreIndia
  4. 4.Grassroots Research and Advocacy MovementMysoreIndia

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