Indian Protected Area Evictions: Contemporary Shortages in Housing and Water Supplies

Indian Protected Area Evictions: Contemporary Shortages in Housing and Water Supplies

Paul Fischer

2/13/2017

Kaitlyn Morris

Indian Protected Area Evictions: Contemporary Shortages in Housing and Water Supplies

        From the first years in which Indian Protected Areas were established chronic problems with overcrowding and resource scarcity have created tangible difficulties for residents and authorities in such regions as have been allocated to be set aside. A veritable consequence of these obstacles to peaceable development has been one of the most tragic of the common issues facing populations. Protected areas have become inhabited by not millions but tens and hundreds of millions of people periodically, degrading both the population forced to take shelter in such wilderness as well as producing a domestication of the those lands, comprising the incidental benefits and direct objectives of the land. This is not an issue limited to India, but one which extends across Southeast Asia. Various solutions have been proposed and carried out, notably wide scale Protected Area Evictions (PAEs), and recent attempts have been made in an academic fashion to describe and quantify the scale of the degradation as a human rights and environmental catastrophe.

It will be helpful to use water shortages in order to examine PAEs as an extended function of the rights to water with many of the same trade-offs as well as potential solutions. Causes for rising water prices can range from government eviction programs in India to water privatization in Bolivia (Letnar Cernic, 317). Profit is not always a motive, and a non-governmental organization, FIAN, contaminated a river in Peru (316). In such cases the role of blame-bearer becomes of a greater focus, as many corporate or non-governmental interests wish to see governments take sole responsibility for the actions of corporations on their sovereign territory (332-3).

PAEs focus primarily on governmental involvement in the shortage of resources, in India that means land. Frequently, however, there are other acute necessities which are being met ranging from food in the rainforests to water in the desert. The involvement of corporations can occur in two ways, as a result of pollution which denies those around them water or when the price of water rises as a result of their activities, which also denies the inhabitants access to clean water. It can then be said that there are two ways that people have a right to enjoy access to water. These include entitlements and freedom (Cernik, 315). The UN has determined that freedom from micro-organisms and sufficient water for survival may be an entitlement, but in order to have freedom in access, humans must also have enough water to pursue irrigational, or other means of power consequent to the access.

It will be helpful then to return to the PAEs as an extended function of the rights to water with many of the same trade-offs as well as potential solutions. Causes for rising water prices can range from government eviction programs in India to water privatization in Bolivia (Cernic, 317). Unlike the example of the Indian PAEs, where national and international law match, the national laws on access to water in many areas has no resemblance to the freedoms and entitlements which are outlined and enforced by the UN. One solution successful amongst British corporations which can be played out on an international scale as well, is to play the dynamics of the balance of power by recognizing the external obligations of a business and ensuring that the obligations of the corporation to human rights are also met by the competing rivals of businesses responsible for the action (341).

        In particular there are unsuccessful solutions which have been examined as component to the issues within that proposed by proponents of PAEs. To understand the problem within Indian forest reserves, it is first necessary to look at the housing crisis as a function of modern human rights extant and protected in the Constitution of India in a way not completed in other countries until much more recently. This can be seen in urban areas such as Mumbai in which crowded masses produce a one billion dollar market for landowners at a massive cost to the individual rights internationally guaranteed which include “resources, capability, security, and power” each of which are explicitly stated as part of the full range of human rights from adequate housing to access to information by Amnesty International (Hohmann, 153). In India a Supreme Court Justice re-emphasized this basic human right as integral to the expansion of minimum living spaces from 225 feet per person to 400 (Hohmann, 162). Modern legislation in other countries, while less fundamental to an understanding of social and legal structures in those countries, also has created a basis by which inhabitants have a right to both rehabilitation and compensation in the event landlords in these slum areas are found to be guilty of property negligence.

        The fact that these questions are coming to the forefront of a critical effort by citizens is indicative of a scale in tragic outcomes which has not been faced in modern history that is encapsulated in the city of Mumbai. There is a natural clash between the well-heeled citizenry who hope to bring Mumbai towards becoming a world-class city and the nearly 75% who live in slums (Hohmann, 136). That is a fact which is demonstrated by firstly, the population density statistic of the 400 sq. kilometer city that holds 18 million people, of whom one third live in an area of slums approximately the size of Manhattan, or 20 sq. kilometers. Urban solutions which hold promise for use in National Forests are the rehabilitation and compensation of inhabitants rather than treating these inhabitants as illegal anyway. Another is the possibility is the enforcement of international legal standards which consider the forced relocation of the poor to be a prima facie violation of their rights of habitation (Hohmann, 172).

 

       

References:

Letnar Cernic, Jernej. “Corporate obligations under the human right to water.” (2011).

Hohmann, Jessie M. “Visions of Social Transformation and the Invocation of Human Rights in Mumbai: The Struggle for the Right to Housing.” Yale Human Rights and Development (2010).

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