Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South
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Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South

Edited by Philippe Cullet and Sujith Koonan

This comprehensive Research Handbook offers an innovative analysis of environmental law in the global South and contributes to an important reassessment of some of its major underlying concepts. The Research Handbook discusses areas rarely prioritized in environmental law, such as land rights, and underlines how these intersect with issues including poverty, livelihoods and the use of natural resources, challenging familiar narratives around development and sustainability in this context and providing new insights into environmental justice.
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Chapter 13: Access to and control over forest resources – the case of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 in India

Shankar Gopalakrishnan


The India Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA) was hailed as a landmark measure aimed at overturning the ‘historical injustice’ done to forest dwellers by a century and a half of colonial forest law. But the FRA was not just a ‘forest policy’ measure. It was required to confront the entire ‘regime’ of land and resource control operational in India today, of which forest law is only a particularly extreme example. This resource regime has become the undiscussed foundation of a range of phenomena that characterise India’s political economy today: from its specific growth pattern to the manner in which the concept of ‘development’ itself is understood in Indian public discourse. This chapter discusses how the struggle to have the FRA passed, and the subsequent struggle over how and in what manner it is ‘implemented’, reflects this larger political economy and ongoing attempts by various political actors to change it.

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