India’s ambitious agenda for industrial and infrastructure growth requires large swathes of land. At the same time, a huge part of its population uses land to earn livelihood. The competing demands cause conflicts. The battles over land are increasing across India irrespective of political cultures, be it left, right or centre. These conflicts have deep implications for the wellbeing of India's people, institutions, investments, and long-term development. They point towards deep structural flaws in the country's social, agrarian, and institutional structures, including ambiguities in property rights regimes and institutions.
An analysis of 331 ongoing land conflicts in India reveals that together they affect close to 36 lakhs people and span over 10 lakhs hectares of land. The total investments (indicative) tied to these conflicts are around Rs.12 lakhs crore. The data was collected between January 2016 and March 2017 by Land Conflict Watch, a research-based data journalism project that maps land conflicts across India. In this presentation, we address how, why, and where these conflicts are emerging and what are the implications of these conflicts for local communities and investment policies in India. We find that in contrast to accepted wisdom, the majority of land conflicts in India are revolving around common lands rather than private lands. We argue that in order to sustain and expand India's socioeconomic development, it is imperative that the government respect communities' land rights, including Forest Rights Act 2006 and ensure that their formal as well as customary jurisdiction over commons is recognised and respected.
About the Speakers
A journalist for nine years, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava writes on issues at the intersection of human rights, environment, industry and politics. He has received National Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Press Council of India, the Young Journalist from the Developing World Award from the Foreign Press Association of London and the Young Asian Environment Journalist Award from the Singapore Environment Council. In the past, Shrivastava has worked for the Hindustan Times, Down To Earth, Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar. Apart from reporting and writing, he is currently co-coordinating Land Conflict Watch, a data-journalism project that maps and tracks land conflicts in India.
Ankur Paliwal is an independent journalist. He divides his time between coordinating Land Conflict Watch (a collaborative data journalism project that maps land related conflicts in India), and exploring stories about science, global health, gender and the environment. In the seven years of his journalism career, Paliwal has reported from India, New York, Germany and Ethiopia. His writings have appeared in Down To Earth, Scroll.in and The Wire in India, and Nautilus, Global Post and Nova Next (online magazines) in the USA. Paliwal won Next Generation of Science Journalists Award 2016 at World Health Summit in Berlin. He has an MA degree in science writing from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York. He currently lives in New Delhi.
A development journalist for the last five years, Bhasker Tripathy has been covering the issues of rural development, agriculture, migration, women empowerment, renewable energy etc. His last day job was with Gaon Connection, India’s biggest rural media platform, as Deputy Digital Head. Bhasker was selected amongst the best young journalists from developing countries by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Press Association & Thompson Foundation, jointly. His work has also been published by the Global Investigative Journalism Network.
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This is the ninth in a series of talks organised by the CPR Land Rights Initiative to showcase perspectives on land rights issues by diverse stakeholders, including academics from various disciplinary backgrounds, civil society organisations, journalists, grassroots workers, and policymakers.