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Fencing Resources


Life is nurtured and continued only when there is access to resources – resources such as water, food and shelter. Whole ecosystems have been built around these resources, and habits, habitats and cultures developed based on such resources. The whole genetic code has transformed, evolved and responded based on the level of access and the extreme conditions of such access as well, drought or floods. However, denial completely did and would ‘snuff’ out life. There can be no doubt about it.

However, over a period of 30 years in India, and long before outside India, human beings have changed the way these resources are used. Increasingly, human societies have started usurping resources for themselves. Take the example of water. Dams have been built across rivers. Unlike previous check dams, these modern projects have stopped the flow in the rivers completely. This is usurpation of water from the ‘life’ downstream, which includes flora, fauna and human beings as well. Water cannot be drawn from these dams, without authorization. It is illegal as well. Dams from these waters flow into canals, which are built in such as way as to prevent any withdrawal or usage. Animals cannot drink, and humans cannot draw without authorization. Now, human societies at every stage of the river are now interested in building dams to ‘divert’ water for themselves.

Even this water is now denied to sections of human beings as well. Water from many dams is ‘reserved’ for certain urban areas or cities. From such ‘city-directed’ dams, water is pumped into ‘closed’ pipelines, which pour into reservoirs inside cities. Any drawal, from the pipelines without authorization, is illegal as well. From the reservoirs, through pipelines or tankers water goes to ‘select’ sections of city population. Access of water to people without authorization, connections or money is not easy. When people do not have access, imagine the plight of other life. If bacteria enters they are killed, by ‘adding’ chemicals. Filters are used to prevent insects and other life getting such access, Taps, bore wells, pipelines are all built to prevent ‘free’ use. Now-a-days, surface tanks inside cities are also fenced, to prevent accidental deaths or suicides. But, domesticated, urban animals also get prevented from accessing. Shelterless people also need to struggle to get to these waters. People who cannot pay may not have access to water.

Despite a Constitutional provision for ‘right to life’, which guarantees access to resources, economic policies are now calling for ‘privatisation’ of water. The objective of ‘privatisation’ is to limit access and allowing access to only paying consumers, after all we need currency for O & M. If this happens, any life, human or non-human, would not have access to water. Exploration of options and technologies which prevent wider access to water are being explored continuously. Even the almighty Sun is ‘denied’ water vapour. In summers, when there is water shortage, lakes are sprayed with chemicals to prevent evaporation. Media would write about stories on how negligent water supply entities are in protecting this precious resource from evaporation, or drinking by the Sun.

Cumulatively, water as an important resource is increasingly ‘fenced’ away from other than human life and also sections of human beings as well.

Land is increasingly getting fenced. In many suburban areas, lands have become ‘deposits’ for surplus money. People with surplus are buying land for future needs. These lands are fenced and left to fallow. Most of them are agricultural lands, converted or to be converted into spaces for non-agricultural purposes. While these lands are taken out of any ‘production’ purposes, they are fenced and privatised, with no access to any life, for years together. They are also ‘maintained’, not to allow any vegetation growth.

Lands for industrial and business purposes are also fenced, and will not be accessible to many people, and would be used for very ‘select’ people. Non-human life is completely barred to enter these lands, by human security, physical barriers, chemical sprays and law.

Grazing lands, wherein grass protects soil from getting eroded and also allows water seepage into the soil, is also being ‘degrassed’, denying access of grass to grazing animals.

Biodiversity is also increasingly getting ‘removed’, around human settlements, to prevent the built up of other than human life. Snakes, insects,  mosquitoes, frogs, aphids, rats and more cannot continue to live in places where human beings go. Forests increasingly are becoming ‘defruited’ i.e., fruit trees are becoming rare.

Laws and legal framework now does recognise propertisation and privatisation. Intellectual Property Rights does empower persons and corporations not only to claim ownership, and get the benefits, but also prevent others from using such resources freely. However, IPRs in operation and in varied forms is also enabling corporations to claim ownership over processes, usage and regeneration of resources such as seeds, flora, fauna, vegetation and genes as well, which were accessible for every life before. Biotechnology, as a commercial operation and industry, is distorting the natural processes and natural access of natural species to nurture their life. This kind of privatisation and fencing brings commercial benefits to a few, at the cost of life on the planet. Cross-pollination, through natural processes such as winds and bees, is also being prevented. Nature’s regeneration capacity is being undermined, through law and commerce.

Fencing of resources is leading to negative impacts. Poor people are increasingly finding it difficult to access water and food for themselves. Non-human life, including animals and birds, are increasingly becoming dependent on ‘human-made’ food, rather than on natural foods. Animal mobs have started roaming to rob people for their food. Monkeys have become a menace all over India, not only in rural agricultural fields but also in urban colonies. Cheetahs are coming out of forests for their food and water. Elephants frequently cross into agricultural fields and non-forest areas in search of food and water. Such animals are now seen are ‘poachers’ and ‘pests’.


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Inclusivity vs Conservation- a huge debate

Extremely well written Sir, I find the human concept and capability to make distinction between "Protecting the scarce resources" and "Depriving (other) forms of life" very weak.

There must be some arrangement for the alternate forms of life to enjoy all natural elements they are entitled to.Though the situation is such that diverting resources for conservative purpose(the concept of

sustainable development) is such that one may intensify the sense of it to extend it to the horizon of keeping resources beyond the usability of some."Inclusivity" is a such a misnomer-we include the next generations' welfare  but at the cost of neglecting those that are a part of this generation.Well improvements come about by our trying to bring all efforts are worth the praise.

Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.