The Harda district of Madhya Pradesh is among the pioneering areas in the country, where participatory forestry approach was first tried on a significant scale. Based largely on the experience in Harda, the participatory forestry approach was extended to most parts of Madhya Pradesh in the form of the Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme. A World Bank supported project with main focus on JFM was also implemented in the 1990s.
While the Forest Department (FD) views the participatory approach followed in Harda as a success, many others, notably a section of Sangathans and NGOs working in the area, hold the view that communities have not benefited and their situation has actually worsened due to introduction of JFM. The Sangathans have been mobilising people (especially adivasis) against the FD and the JFM programme. This difference in perception has resulted in conflict between Sangathans and the FD. In 2001, this conflict reached a flash point when a local Sangathan organised a public hearing (Jan Sunwai).
The present report is part of a larger study coordinated by the University of Cambridge under which perceptions of all major stakeholders regarding the forestry situation in Harda were gathered. This report, however, focuses on the perceptions of Sangathans, NGOs and activists working on forestry and adivasi rights issues in Harda and surrounding areas.
Vira, B (ed) (2005) Incorporating stakeholder perceptions in participatory forest management in India. Delhi, India: India Research Press.