India’s land conflicts will persist until acquisition policy is inclusive, says expert – by Rina Chandran (Reuters India – July 17, 2017)

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Conflicts over land in India will persist until the government’s policy on land acquisitions for industrial use is made more inclusive to benefit villagers and farmers who have to give up their land, said an expert who has studied recent clashes.

Standoffs between the state and farmers have risen in India as demand for land increases, affecting millions of people and jeopardizing billions of dollars of investment..

While a 2013 land acquisition law was aimed at protecting the rights of farmers, some key provisions have been diluted in several states. Officials say this is essential to ease acquisitions for faster economic growth.

“Dispossession is seen as necessary for development,” said Michael Levien, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and expert on land acquisition in India.

“But in reality, it’s a very exclusionary growth model that offers farmers very little; the state is merely a land broker for private investment. There is no development in this model.” About 65 million people were displaced in India by dams, highways, mines, power plants and airports between 1950 and 2005, according to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

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