As seen on Yahoo! News India

Kolkata, Nov 27 (IANS) At least 25 percent of India’s districts are affected by some form of land conflict and a majority of these arise because the state takes over the lands, often on behalf of private investors, a study has said.

A land map prepared by the Society for Promotion of Wasteland Development (SPWD) and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) indicates 252 conflicts in 165 of India’s 664 districts.

“A new map of land conflicts in India shows that at least one quarter of India’s districts are affected by some form of land conflict,” said a release attributed to RRI.

“Most of these conflicts arise from state land takeover of lands, often on behalf of private investors. The takeovers include acquisition of private land, diversion of forest land, or transfer of common lands,” the RRI release of Nov 25 said.

RRI is a global coalition of 14 partners and over 150 international, regional and community organisations advancing forest tenure, policy and market reforms. It is coordinated by Rights and Resources Group, a non-profit organisation based in Washington DC.

These developments raise important questions regarding India’s ability to address complex social problems at home while its new government pursues a fast-track development agenda, punctuated by an accelerated land giveaway to investors and recently announced dilutions of India’s Forest Rights Act, said the report.

“This raises serious doubts about whether the current model of land takeover – where bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors to displace or impoverish millions of people – is sustainable in the long run,” Kundan Kumar, director of the Asia Regional Program at RRI, said in a statement.

“Given India’s complex land and forest tenure history, transparent and accountable decision making as well as respect for people’s rights are vital missing elements,” Kumar said.

The map, updated from a previous study in 2012, tracks takeovers from January 2013 to June 2014 and is based on information collected through a survey of media reports and court cases.

Researchers forecast considerable civil unrest in response to major projects planned for the next 15 years, which require over 11 million hectares of land and will affect the livelihoods and welfare of tens of millions of people.

According to the report, “the trend has shown little respite in spite of legislations such as the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act and the Forest Rights Act, which ostensibly aim to make land takeover more democratic”.

In practice, compliance and enforcement are inconsistent while the legislations are themselves inadequate, it said.

“The increase in the number and intensity of conflicts indicates that India’s current development juggernaut model is one-sided and excludes the people on the ground in decision-making,” said Viren Lobo, executive director of India-based SPWD.

“The rise in cost of production resulting from this approach is not only reflected in the cost of enhanced security for projects, but in the rise of non-performing assets as well,” said Lobo.

Original article – Most land conflicts in India due to acquisition by state: Study