Van Panchayats

Van Panchayats or Village Forest Councils are unique community managed forest institutions. In the 1890's the British Raj forcibly took over all non private land and forests of what was then know as the "United Provinces" a part of which is now know as Uttarakhand. This lead to loss of access to forest areas on which the mountain communities were heavily dependent. This disenfranchisement lead to sustained and widespread protests and even the burning of large tracts of forests by the residents of the area. The British Government, in order to resolve the issue setup a Kumaon Grievances Committee , which in 1931 issued the first "Kumaon Panchayat Forest Rules" , thus enabling mountain communities to own and manage their own forests. Since then Uttarakhand has created more than 12000 Van Panchayats which continue to be governed by the Forest Panchayat Rules, the only one of its kind in India. However periodic changes have been made to the rules in 1971, 1976, 2001 and the latest in 2005. Not all of these changes are in accordance to the spirit of the original rules of 1931. Provided below are the rules from 1931 , along with a critique of the rules of 2001

Kumaon Panchayat Forest Rules 1931 (english)

Panchayati Forest Rules 1976 (english)

The Uttaranchal Panchayati Forest Rules 2001 (english)

The Uttaranchal Panchayati Forest Rules 2005 (english)

The Uttaranchal Panchayati Forest Rules 2005 (hindi)