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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 364-375

From Regulation to Management and Back Again: Exploring Governance Shifts in India's Coastal Zone

Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India

Correspondence Address:
Aparna Sundar
Azim Premji University, Bangalore
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.155580

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Recent struggles over coastal zone policy in India make it a fertile site within which to map the actors, institutions, and knowledges involved in contemporary ecological governance. In 2007, the government drafted a coastal zone policy that marked a shift from the previous regulation approach based on hard boundaries and prohibitions, to a management framework using Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies and new scientific technologies to draw up flexible localised plans. The new policy suffered a reversal, however, when a concerted civil society campaign of opposition forced its withdrawal and a return to the earlier regulatory approach, albeit with numerous modifications. This paper argues that the power of the campaign was not just political, but also informational. It traces the multiple and intersecting trajectories through which knowledges are developed, transmitted, and employed. In particular, what emerges is the role of an important 'straddling' or 'interface' layer of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and technical 'experts,' and the role of new information technologies and technologies of governance in enabling a cross-cutting circulation of knowledges. Interests, actors, and knowledges/technologies do not always map neatly on to each other, challenging binaries such as 'traditional' and 'modern,' or 'local' and 'global,' and rendering unpredictable the outcome of contestations over policy and governance.

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