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Land as livelihood vs land as commodity

By Walter Fernandes

All over India, land is being acquired for commercial/industrial use, for realty and infrastructure development. But all over India, this acquisition of land is being bitterly opposed. The battle is between land as commodity and land as livelihood. What are the causes of land alienation? What are its consequences?

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Tossed aside in the fast lane to growth

By Manshi Asher

Case studies from Gujarat, the SEZ capital of India, where vast tracts of land have transitioned from agricultural to non-agricultural use. The losers are not the landowners but nomadic pastoralists, small livestock farmers and dalit agricultural labourers who did not own land but were still dependent on it

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Chengara: Dalit homeland?

By P N Venugopal

In yet another confrontation with industry, hundreds of landless families -- principally dalits and adivasis -- have occupied the Harrison Malayalam rubber plantation in Kerala. Claiming that the company's land lease has long expired, they are demanding 5 acres of land and Rs 50,000 for each family. A special report from the new battleground of Chengara

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Nandigram revisited: The scars of battle

By Tushar Dhara

Nandigram, where villagers have been strongly resisting the acquisition of their lands, represents the cleft between the hopes of an urban middle class high on the promise of growth and development and the anxieties of the rural masses who say all they know is farming and what they want most is land

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Yesterday's 'encroachers' are today's rights-holders

By Manshi Asher

The giant POSCO steel plant and port in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa will displace 471 families in 11 hamlets. For the last three years, local communities have been fighting to retain the land they have been cultivating for generations but which, after Independence, has been deemed government forest land. Will the recently-notified Forest Rights Act give them the locus standi to assert their rights over this land?

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The shrink-wrapping of Goa

By Rahul Goswami

Real estate developers have allied with politicians in Goa to create a brand new economy in this well-known holiday state. Already under pressure from dwindling land resources and poor, scanty infrastructure, Goa's rural population is being left out of any socio-economic gains

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The pressure on slumlands

By Kalpana Sharma

The Rs 9,300 crore Dharavi Redevelopment Plan envisages a complete transformation of the slum. But it is the soaring value of the prime real estate on which Dharavi is located that is driving the change. There appears to be no real commitment to ensuring that the people who live there, and who, in fact, developed Dharavi, get their entitlements and have a say in the style of redevelopment

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Beware of the bulls

By Aseem Shrivastava

India is poised to see a massive real estate boom over the next decade. The market, already worth $20 billion, growing at 25%-35% per annum, is expected to rise to $90 billion by 2015. Can urban areas expand so much without affecting the fortunes of rural communities, especially since land reforms in India have gone into reverse gear since 1991 and the State has bent virtually every piece of protective legislation which had thus far stalled the accumulation of land banks by private corporations?

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When we had land

By Aparna Pallavi

How do those who have spent their lives on the land see it? What would it mean to go on living on this land that is giving them fewer and fewer returns? What would it mean to lose it? "With our land we have not just lost our income, we have lost the rhythm of our life, our traditions and beliefs have lost their meaning," says Kamlabai Girhe of Shivangaon village on the outskirts of Nagpur

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The idiocy of urban thinking

By Sagarika Ghose

Sixty per cent of India's people are trapped in land and want to escape it, according to this counterview. It is the urban elite who want to see the Indian farmer as frozen in time, seated wisely and calmly next to fields of waving paddy, wearing colourful clothes, speaking in simple profound phrases

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Treasure islands in a sea of poverty

By Aseem Shrivastava

From Nandigram in West Bengal and Jagatsinghpur in Orissa to Raigad in Maharashtra and Nandagudi in Karnataka, SEZs are being resisted with fury. Why? Because a small set of people derive the benefits, and a much larger set pay the costs

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The nuts and bolts of appropriating agricultural land

By Bhaskar Goswami

How much land is actually transitioning from farm to non-farm use? The government itself puts the figure at 1.5% of net sown area between 1990 and 2003, or more than 21 lakh hectares. The actual figures could be much higher. Putting just this much land under wheat would yield 57 lakh tonnes of produce, enough to feed more than 4.3 crore hungry people every year

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The relevance of land reform in post-liberalisation India

By D Bandyopadhyay

Land reform is a forgotton agenda in State policy today. But given the jobless growth of the Indian economy and the spurt in rural violence, with people protesting their lack of access to land, water and jungle, it is land that must provide livelihoods not only to labour already attached to agriculture and allied pursuits, but also to a segment of surplus urban unemployed returning to rural areas for shelter and livelihood. This can only be facilitated by a consistent land reform policy

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Whose land is 'wasteland'?

By Kannan Kasturi

By the second half of the 19th century, the British government had codified a series of laws to enable it to extract as much as it could from the acquisition, sale and transfer of lands and forests. Unfortunately, republican India has not broken with colonial law and policy even in the 21st century, continuing with the policy of considering as public land all land not assessed for revenue and taking over such land after declaring it ‘forest’ or ‘wasteland’ irrespective of the history of occupation and use

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The ifs and buts of R&R

By Himanshu Upadhyaya

What does all the verbiage in the draft Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill 2007 amount to if there are conditionalities even in recognising a project-affected person as project-affected, and when the displaced cannot be guaranteed alternative land for rehabilitation?

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The Magarpatta model for land acquisition

By Rakesh Ganguli

In an equitable and inclusive model that replaces coercive land acquisition and exclusive development projects, 123 farm families in Pune pooled 400 acres of farmland and set up a private limited company that developed a commercial-cum-residential project. These farmers own shares in the company proportionate to the value of their land. Plus they have got plush homes, earn dividends on the shares they hold, rent from tenants and income from contractual work for the company

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