When the Great Himalayan National Park was notified in 1999, villagers in the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh in northern India lost their customary rights to graze animals and collect medicinal herbs from the area, posing a grave threat to their livelihood practices. A 10 km tract of National Park territory -prime wildlife habitat- was, however, denotified to allow for the construction of the Parvati Hydro-Electric Project. Contradictions were apparent in the Government’s attitude – that livelihoods could be compromised in the interests of conservation, but the latter had to bow down before the pressures of development.
Turf Wars Revisited takes another look at how the government conservation policy worked towards the protection of biodiversity in the Great Himalayan National Park. Can such a system really work in the long-term, when it excludes local participation and is in conflict with local livelihood concerns? How have alternative livelihood issues been addressed? And as hydel-power becomes the new swan song of the State, what are its social and ecological implications?
Turf Wars Revisited attempts to collate perceptions towards the National Park and the Parvati Project, five years after their establishment in the Kullu Valley.