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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs