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  • Land is fast becoming a high-risk asset in many parts of India. Once a relatively abundant resource, especially in areas away from major urban centres, land is increasingly becoming difficult to acquire and prone to uncertainties.

    Land holders, especially politically orga-nised farmers, are resisting large-scale government land acquisitions and even questioning past buyouts.
    Much of this is the result of forcible land acquisition by state governments at rates determined by administrative fiat and not market. An antiquated colonial law on land acquisition has allowed local governments to compulsorily acquire land merely by declaring it to be in public interest and without issuing notice to the land owner. The original idea behind this 1894 law was to get land for essential works such as roads, public buildings, railways and similar infrastructure projects. In recent times, however, much of the acquired farm acreage has gone towards private housing schemes. Much of these lands acquired by local govern-ments have been and continue to be transferred to private real-estate players, industrialists and powerful individuals at relatively modest prices. This has helped private players, and in some instances government institutions, reap huge profits, leaving villagers dispossessed and marginalised.