Deprecated instance! Use the new indico2
Enclosure of Lake Commons and Socio-economic Exclusion of Fishers: An illustration from Kerala, India
Kuttanad is a low-lying and water-logged region in Kerala, South India replenished by silt brought by four river systems. The area was found to be well suited to rice cultivation and fields were reclaimed from marshes as well as Lake Vembanad. Reclamation of land for cultivation and flood control used to be undertaken by private farmers, with assistance from the state. Over time Kuttanad became the rice bowl of Kerala and a rice-centric economy evolved here. Lake Vembanad serves as an extensive nursery for marine prawns and also sustains a lucrative fishery. For centuries fishing has been an important occupation for the population of the area. The enclosure of commons and high input agriculture (being one of the 18 regions in the country chosen for green revolution in the 1960s) degraded the ecosystem and fisher livelihoods. The burgeoning tourism industry in the last two decades have further enclosed the Lake Commons and polluted it with increasing number of house boats. The paper illustrates the consequences of this transitions, especially the livelihood crisis of poor fishermen mostly belonging to lower castes through the lens of political ecology.