Over 65 lakh people and over 21 lakh hectares of land are locked in 703 ongoing land conflicts around India, according to a study by Land Conflict Watch (LCW), a New Delhi-based research initiative that maps and tracks ongoing land conflicts.
The study titled ‘Locating the Breach’ found that Rs 13.7 lakh crore of committed, earmarked, and potential investments were found embroiled in 335 of the 703 land conflicts. This constitutes 7.2% of the revised estimate of the country’s Gross Domestic Project for 2018-19.
“Long-standing land conflicts remain unresolved for years even while new arenas for intense contestation are being created as a result of post-liberalisation economic growth. This bodes ill for both communities and businesses that seek secure access to land resources. The impacts are visible in the unprecedented quantum of investments that are getting locked in disputes over land and resources,” says Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, co-founder of Land Conflict Watch and one of the co-authors of the study.
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Against the popular discourse of disputes related to private lands, the study shows that the majority of land conflicts—over 68%—involve common lands. A large number of these conflicts are caused due to violation or non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
LCW has developed peer-reviewed protocols, standards and methodology for data collection, research and analysis. Data collected on 84 different parameters for every land conflict was analysed for this study. The parameters include information on the number of people impacted, investments associated with the land conflict, the type of economic activity undertaken on the land under conflict, among others.
A whopping 43% of land conflicts are embroiled in infrastructure development, led by townships and real estate schemes, along with roads and irrigation projects. Another 15% of conflicts are related to conservation and forest-related activities such as compensatory afforestation, plantation and wildlife conservation schemes.
According to the study, infrastructure projects leading to land conflicts affect people the most. The study estimates over 30 lakh people have been impacted by 300 infrastructure related projects, followed by over 8 lakh people affected by mining related projects. As far as investments are concerned, over Rs 7 lakh crore have been embroiled in infrastructure projects related conflicts. The study finds that investments worth Rs 2.8 lakh crore in power sector and Rs 2.7 lakh crore in the industrial sector are struck in land conflicts.
60% of all mining related conflicts were found in Fifth Schedule districts.
75% of all conservation and forestry related conflicts, and 51.4% of mining related conflicts are involved in violation or non- implementation of the FRA, 2006.
Acquisition of private lands is a reason for conflicts in 37.8% cases. Such cases impact over 30 lakh people and contributes to 71.4% of all investments documented to be locked in such conflicts.
In 104 cases, the dispute has been going on for at least two decades and in another 149 conflicts, the case has remained unresolved for at least a decade.
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