ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Vicissitudes in the Acquisition of Land: A Case Study

After touching on a few issues related to the increasing cost of land in the country and hence input costs, this article examines the case of Maan village near Pune in Maharashtra. There has been a sea change in the attitudes of landowners to land acquisition and compensation. Three phases can be identified in this saga and the landowners are now not only coming up with alternatives, but are also more confi dent about demanding what they want. They have become business savvy in their dealings with the authorities
This is a revised version of a paper presented at a national seminar on “Interrogating the Indian State” organised by the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Pune on 24-25 February 2012, and was published as “The State and Land” in the Seminar Proceedings Series, No 1, titled “Democracy and the State in India”, edited by Mangesh Kulkarni, 2013

India’s politics may seem noisy, chaotic, and at times acrimonious, but if one were to probe beneath its surface, one would find a certain amount of unanimity on some issues. One among them is industrialisation and the acquisition of land for it. Several major parties across the ideological spectrum agree that India needs to have a high rate of growth and to that end more and more land will have to be converted from non-industrial use to industrial use. The only note of dissent is sounded by some Gandhians and non-governmental organisation (NGO) leaders (like Medha Patkar) who talk of “alternative” development.

As the rate of growth of the economy has increased, so has the demand for land for non-agricultural purposes, and we can quite correctly expect the demand for land to rise in the future. One would not be exaggerating much if one were to say that this single issue will be a very important test case for India’s political economy and show us the ­ironies facing the country’s development. In the matter of demand for land, India is quite similar to China, another economy that has a high rate of growth and high pressure on agricultural land. To put India’s case in perspective, in 2005 alone, official data suggest that China had more than 60,000 local ­disturbances over the issue of land ­(Banerjee et al 2007). Since then, the Chinese government has not come out with this data.

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