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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.