New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Ongoing land conflicts affect the lives and livelihoods of over 65 lakh people in India, putting investment worth Rs 13.7 trillion under threat, said a study on Friday.
About 68 per cent of these land conflicts involve common lands, said Land Conflict Watch (LCW), a New Delhi-based independent research initiative that maps and tracks ongoing land conflicts in India.
A large number of these conflicts are caused due to violation or non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and other land and environmental legislations like the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, said the report.
“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,” said Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, co-founder of LCW and one of the co-authors of the study.
LCW conducted the study between 2016 and 2019, with support from the Rights and Resources Initiative, a global network of organisations working on resources rights of local communities and Oxfam India, a non-profit that works to address poverty and inequality in India.
With the help of over 42 researchers across the country, the research analysed and assessed land conflicts based on the different economic sectors involved, social factors at play, laws involved, and land types under contestation.
The study showed that on the one hand, the need for infrastructural enhancement has become the leading reason for new conflicts; on the other, conflicts have emerged from the state’s conservation and forestry initiatives also.
Among the conflicts analysed in the study, in 104 cases, the conflicts have been going on for at least two decades, and in another 149 conflicts, the case has remained unresolved for at least a decade.
“The destruction of livelihood opportunities, capital, and investment caused by these prolonged cases has had a debilitating impact on the lives of the citizens caught in the conflict as well as on the economy at large,” said the report.
LCW documented a total of 703 ongoing land conflicts over the last three years.
Over 21 lakh hectares of land is locked in these land conflicts, said the study, adding that infrastructure development, led by townships and real estate schemes, along with roads and irrigation projects, are causing the highest number (43 per cent) of land conflicts, followed by conservation and forestry related activities (15 per cent), such as compensatory afforestation plantation and wildlife conservation schemes.