News / Asia

India Seeks to Balance Growth, Landowners’ Rights

India Seeks to Balance Growth, Landowners’ Rightsi
X
August 06, 2013 4:51 PM
Earlier this year, politicians in India united over the need to reform the country's antiquated land acquisition laws, and lawmakers are expected to begin debating soon legislation aimed at better balancing industrial growth and landowners’ rights. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from Gurgaon, outside of New Delhi.

VIDEO: Indian lawmakers are expected to begin debating legislation reforming country's antiquated land acquisition laws.

Aru Pande
India's Proposed Land Bill

  • replaces Land Acquisition Act of 1894
  • requires 80 percent landowners' consent for private projects, none for public projects
  • provides compensation of 2 times market price in urban areas
  • provides compensation up to 4 times market price in rural areas
  • applies to industrial, development, mining projects
  • exempts highway, railway projects
Lawmakers in India are expected to begin debating changes to the country’s antiquated land acquisitions laws in an effort to better balance industrial growth and landowners’ rights.
 
The land acquisition measure, along with the food security bill, are two key initiatives of the ruling Congress Party, as Indians prepare to head to the polls next year for national elections.
 
One does not have to travel too far from India’s capital to see the need for land reform.
 
Amid the bustling chaos of the sprawling business center of Gurgaon, Rajpal Yadav owns a small oasis of quiet that is just meters from the concrete and cars. Here, trees and shrubs crowd around rays of sunlight under a train overpass.
 
The nursery owner used to have eight hectares [20 acres] of land here, but in two decades, Yadav has gradually lost his land to one transportation project or another. Now he must cultivate his plants on just four-tenths of a hectare [1 acre], which he is also at risk of losing to an expanding roadway.
 
“This is the only greenery left and this will also be gone. None of the surrounding companies are doing anything about it. They are cutting down all the trees for the sake of roads and buildings,” he said.
 
Fair Compensation
 
Landowners like Yadav have filed lawsuits to try to hold on to what little they have left.
 
Others have seen their property seized to make room for India’s industrialization while getting little or nothing in return under the country’s Land Acquisition act of 1894.
 
The fight has at times turned violent. Bloody protests have erupted in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, where residents have refused to give up their land for a $12-billion steel mill built by South Korean giant Posco. And just last month, Posco withdrew its plans to build a $5-billion plant in the southern state of Karnataka, citing delays in land acquisition and iron ore mining rights.
 
A proposed bill before parliament seeks to bridge the gap between landowners and developers by providing fairer compensation for land acquired for industrial projects.
 
The new legislation provides compensation at up to double the market prices in urban areas, and four times the market price in rural areas. The measure also gives resettlement and rehabilitation help for those who are displaced or those whose livelihoods are affected by the land acquisition.
 
Under the proposed measure, the government will not have to seek consent for public projects, but private companies will have to obtain the consent of 80 percent of those affected.
 
Cost of Growth
 
S. Gopalakrishnan, Confederation of Indian Industry president, welcomes the government’s efforts toward reform and making land acquisition less arbitrary and more predictable.

But he said the government should be mindful of not pushing property and subsequent project costs higher.
 
“We also need to make sure that the costs do not escalate too much. Then the investment required to set up a business will become unaffordable. So, we are requesting that the government make land available to businesses at reasonable prices,” he said.
 
Analysts say the same development that has uprooted farmers also has connected distant communities, created jobs and allowed for India’s once near double-digit economic growth.
 
Sakshi Balani, with the New Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research, said the government must navigate the complex issue carefully.
 
“The idea essentially is that you have to have legislation that not only covers the spur of development and growth taking place, but also provides a check on it in some ways. It’s that very delicate balance that this law is trying to bring about,” she said.
 
As for Yadav, he is holding out hope that his nursery and some of the last remaining greenery along this busy road eventually will prevail.
 
“I have faith in the court. We will keep fighting in the court. We will see what happens, but I have faith in justice,” the nursery owner said, standing over rows and rows of potted plants.
 
Yadav and many others are watching to see how lawmakers vote on land acquisition reform as parliament debates the highly contentious issue in the coming months.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid