Denial of Rights Continues: How Legislation for ‘Democratic Decentralisation’ of Forest Governance was Subverted in the Implementation Process of the Forest Rights Act in India

  • Bidhan Kanti DasEmail author
Original Article


It is argued that, in the absence of legislation, the outcome of decentralisation initiatives in forestry remains limited in terms of devolution of power and assigning authority to politically weak forest-dependent communities are concerned. In this context, the ongoing implementation process of the Forest Rights Act provides an opportunity to examine the institutional arrangements for devolution of power and authority, and measures the extent to which this Act offers space for democratic and inclusive forest governance by the local people. Based on micro-level field work in parts of West Bengal, India, the paper argues that understanding roles of institutions under ‘democratic decentralisation’ framework is not enough for meaningful democratic decentralisation, particularly for forest resources. If democratic decentralisation of natural resources is to succeed, a variety of factors embedded in the institutions, like actor, power and accountability, is to be recognised.


Democratic decentralisation Forest governance FRA Forest dwellers India 



This paper is based on the minor research project entitled “Understanding Implementation process of FRA 2006 in Odisha and West Bengal”, sponsored by the Rabindranath Tagore Centre for Human Development Studies, Kolkata. I would like to acknowledge the support of Professor Achin Chakraborty, Director, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, and thank Basudev Banerjee for his research assistance.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of AnthropologyInstitute of Development Studies KolkataKolkataIndia

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