Where access is granted: Informal claim-making practice in Delhi's forest

Authors: Aditi Singh*, University of Oklahoma
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: situated urban political ecology, access, informal claim-making, urban forests, permission
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 24
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Delhi is a unique city with forest fragments, often referred as ridge forests, which are remnants of Aravali thorn scrub vegetation. Different users treat these city forests as recreational spaces, sites of biodiversity conservation and sources of resources such as fuelwood. Several non-state advocacy groups seek to convert these city forests to a conservancy, which would limit fuelwood harvesting. As a part of the developmental plan for these green areas, the Delhi Development Authority (state representative) aims to convert several of these areas into parks while the forest department aims to impose restrictions on resource harvesting in these forests. However, little is known about the everyday situated informal practices to access such green public spaces as practices of some users – the fuelwood collectors, of the forests are not necessarily ‘right-seeking’, given these city forests are the property of the state/city. The goal of the study is to understand the situated informal claim-making practice of ‘permission to access’ being negotiated on an everyday basis that shapes access to these forests. The study will deploy methods of semi-structured interviews, participant observation and discourse analysis to study one of the forests Sanjay Van or the South-central ridge forest. The results of the study will help to understand power relationships in a city forest identified as a public space, a state property, a public space where legitimized claims of some (conservation, recreational) are recognized, and some are predominantly seeking ‘permission to access’ the city forest to derive source of their livelihood – fuelwood.

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