Inderscience Publishers

The socio-economic context of land extensification in Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

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This study examines the economic and political context of encroachments on uncultivated public lands (UPLs), its rationale, and the evolution of land and forest laws as a result of socio-economic transformations arising from the plantation economy in Kodagu District, Karnataka, south-west India. We find that while UPLs are owned by government agencies and traditionally used as common property resources by local people, private appropriation of UPLs is in conformity with microeconomic rationality. By identifying costs and benefits associated with the appropriation of UPLs among actors, the paper attempts to explain why environmental conservation, as a political orientation, cannot be taken for granted within society. Indeed, in the context of elective democracy, it has become a real burden for the State government to implement the benevolent orders of the Union government, which does not have to bear the economic and political costs of its decisions.

Keywords: common property, encroachment, India, land laws, legal enforcement, public land

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