News / Asia

Indian Landowners Resist Reform Measure

A signboard is pictured at the proposed site of Navi Mumbai airport, about 45 km (27 miles) east of Mumbai, August 8, 2012.
A signboard is pictured at the proposed site of Navi Mumbai airport, about 45 km (27 miles) east of Mumbai, August 8, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
In India, a new law dealing with the acquisition of land will soon ensure better compensation for people whose land is taken over for infrastructure and industrial projects. But both industry leaders and land-owning farmers are critical of the measure.
 
For decades, well-known social activist Medha Patkar has been the face of many struggles by farmers and tribal communities whose land was acquired to build dams, roads and factories as India industrialized. She says the displaced people got a pittance for their land and were never rehabilitated.
 
“Displacement is uprootment. The whole natural resource base is lost to the people and they are now lying in the slums or on the periphery of everything,” said  Patkar.  
 
Amid growing resistance in the countryside over giving up land, parliament last week passed a new bill to address the charged issue of land reform. It will replace a centuries old colonial law after being signed by the president.  
 
Better compensation


Under the new law, landowners will be paid up to four times the market value in rural areas and double in urban areas. Private industry will also have to get the consent of 80 percent of landowners before acquiring land.
 
The government says it will balance industry’s need for land while protecting the rights of farmers. Facing elections next year, it is pitching it as a major step in addressing grievances of rural and tribal communities, and hopes it will spell the end of violent struggles.
 
But business bodies have warned that the new law will have adverse consequences on the country’s industrial development. They say it will increase the cost of acquiring land.  Even more worrisome - it will make the process of acquiring land for industry much more cumbersome.
 
“The process of acquisition has become so complicated that the time line will increase enormously with all the social impact analysis. That would mean land that could have been acquired in one year will take three years and that will increase uncertainty and that will increase the rate at which you calculate the rate of return. The processes involved are just becoming so complicated,” explains Rajiv Kumar, an economist who was former head of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
 
Manufacturing slow down

Industry fears the new law will be yet another dampener on the development of India’s manufacturing sector whose expansion has been already set back by bureaucratic bottlenecks and what is called policy paralysis. At least two foreign investors, Posco an Arcelor Mittal recently scrapped plans to set up steel projects in India, partly due to problems over land acquisition.  
 
Rajiv Kumar says the new law comes at a time when India is already facing an industrial slowdown. In the long run, it could make the country more import dependant.
 
“The share of manufacturing sector in our GDP has declined from 1984 onwards. It has gone from 17 percent to 14 percent or so and increasingly for a population whose incomes are rising and whose demand for manufactured goods is increasing, you will then have to import these products,” he said.
 
Protecting farmers

However, activists like Patkar say industry should use barren land and stay away from cultivated land in a country where farming still supports two-thirds of the population.

While the new measure ensures some resettlement help for displaced people, Patkar fears it does not go far enough.
 
“The whole process many give some space to the farmers, but for the farmers there is no rehabilitation projected and provided based on alternate livelihood, which is a major flaw. The rehabilitation is more cash based,” he said.
 
Indeed, the new law is not likely to settle the contentious debate over the rights of rural communities to continue using their land for their sustenance and the need for rapid industrial development.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid