Overview of Land Rights in Inda - The Greens | European Free

Report
Land Grabbing in India
and the Movement for
Food Security
Shivani Chaudhry
Housing and Land Rights Network &
Ekta Parishad, India
1
India: Socio-Economic Indicators

One-fifth of world’s poor live in India – the
largest for any country.

India has one-fourth (208 million) of world’s 800
million under-nourished people.

Child malnutrition is the world’s highest.
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Human Development Index: 119 of 169 countries.

GDP growth rate: +7% over 3 years.
2
Land Distribution & Ownership

India is 70% rural with high dependence on land:
agriculture, fisheries and forests.

83% of farmers are small farmers <2 hectares.

Small farmers produce 41% of country’s food grains.

60% of cultivable land owned by 10% of population.
3
Land Distribution & Ownership

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Unequal ownership of land – root cause of poverty
& hunger.
Landless and ‘near-landless’ ~ 220 million people.
90% of landless poor are Scheduled Castes (Dalits)
& Scheduled Tribes (indigenous peoples).
Majority work as agricultural labour and
sharecroppers.
Access to land is a key determinant of food
security and livelihood protection.
4
Women & Land

Rural women depend greatly on land for
subsistence.

Perform > 50% of all agricultural work.

35% of rural households are women-headed, but
less than 2% women hold titles to land.

Migration of men to urban areas – resulting in
‘feminisation of agriculture.’

Women largely not recognised as farmers.
5
Land Reform

Post-independence land reform focused on:
 Abolition
of system of feudal landlords
(zamindars).
 Tenancy
reforms to transfer ‘land to the tiller.’
 Redistribution
of land via ‘ceiling’ on holdings.
6
Failure of Land Reform

Land reform not successfully implemented in most
states.

No focus on gender equity.

2 million acres of land declared surplus but not yet
distributed because of litigation /other reasons.

Post-1991: pro-liberalisation agenda.

Push for removal of land ceiling restrictions.

No political will to implement land reform.

Draft Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-2017): does not
mention land reform.
7
What is ‘Land Grabbing’?

Phenomenon of takeover of people’s land by both
State and non-State actors.

Generally forceful / involuntary.

Largely unregulated/ illegal/ without due process.

Often justified with ‘public purpose’ clause.

People generally left with no legal recourse/
access to remedy.
Occurring at an unprecedented scale in
rural and urban areas.
8
Land Grabbing: Key Factors (1)

‘Development projects’ – dams, mining, natural
resource extraction, ports, roads, infrastructure
projects, mega-events…
Special Economic Zones (1 million face threat of
eviction).
 Slum demolitions/ ‘urban renewal.’

India is estimated to have the highest number of
people displaced annually as a result of
‘development’ projects: since independence (1947)
almost 65 million displaced
9
Land Grabbing: Key Factors (2)
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Industrialization of agriculture.
Reduction in agricultural subsidies.
High prices of patented /GM seeds & fertilisers.
Bio-fuel production (3.2 million hectares).
Creation of carbon stocks for ‘climate
mitigation.’
National Parks/ Eco-tourism.
10
Land Grab Facilitated by : (1)

Use of Land Acquisition Act (1894) which allows
state takeover of land under guise of ‘public
purpose.’

Neo-liberal economic policies and obsession with
‘GDP growth.’

Changes in land laws to facilitate conversion of
agricultural land and to ease land sale.
11
Land Grab Facilitated by: (2)

Manipulation of laws and takeover of land by the
state for companies (Indian and foreign), often
using violence:
 State acquiring land for foreign investors under leasing
arrangements – e.g. Vedanta Aluminium/ Lafarge.
 6,000 acres land acquired for Yamuna Expressway in
Uttar Pradesh (1,225 villages) – 4 farmers killed in
clashes.
 POSCO (South Korea) Steel Plant, Odisha: state using
police force to suppress resistance / destroy betel
vines / threaten villagers.
12
Land Grab Facilitated by: (3)

Alienation of tribal lands.

Violation of ‘ceiling’ laws in rural areas.

Failure to implement progressive laws:
 Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
 Forest Rights Act, 2008.

Failure to implement positive court orders.

Lack of human rights-based laws and policies (e.g.
Rehabilitation Policy).
13
Urban Land Grab Caused by:
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Unplanned urbanization.
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Repeal of Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act.
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Inequitable land use policies : lack of space for
urban poor in cities/towns.
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Unchecked real estate speculation.
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Absence of housing, health, employment schemes
for the urban poor.
14
Trade & Investment Agreements:
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India has signed 21 bilateral investment treaties with 22
of 27 EU states.
EU-India FTA: ‘investor protection chapter’ - conflicts
with human rights obligations.
Risk of takeover of community land for large-scale
investment by European companies.
Obligation of Fair and Equitable Treatment (FET) –
against human rights /no ‘public interest’ exemption.
‘Free and Prior Informed Consent’ not required.
Lease of 99 years – could interfere with land reform.
Investor-State dispute settlement – gives foreign
investors undue rights over Constitution of India & int’l
law.
15
Impacts of Land Grabbing (1):
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Increased forced evictions : 40-50% of
displaced are tribal/ indigenous peoples.
Increasing landlessness/ homelessness.
Acute agrarian crisis.
Growing indebtedness of farmers.
Rise in farmer suicides (+ 250,000 in 15 years).
Forced migration to urban areas.
Deepening poverty and hunger.
16
Impacts of Land Grabbing (2):

Arbitrary arrests /attacks/ detention of human
rights defenders.

Criminalisation of social movements .

Social unrest and violence: rise of insurgency and
counter-insurgency movements.
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Disproportionately severe impacts on women.
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Violation of multiple human rights.
17
Movement of Small Peasants
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People uniting to struggle against forceful land
acquisition and corporate agriculture.
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Growth of organic farming & small farmer
cooperatives.
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Women leading movements to occupy village
‘wastelands’ & promote collective farming/ rights.

Non-violent social movements like Ekta Parishad are
mobilising thousands and spreading awareness on the
importance of land reform and redistribution to
promote food security, self-governance and dignity.
18
Recommendations for Govt. of India (1)
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Adopt a strong human rights approach in all
laws/policies/programmes.
Implement human rights-based agrarian reform
=> land redistribution + agricultural resources
(including seeds), water, information, & access
to markets.
Adopt urban reform measures + provision of
homestead land in urban areas.
Provide legal security of tenure & recognise
collective rights.
Strengthen National Land Reforms Council.
Strengthen Public Distribution System (PDS).
19
Recommendations for Govt. of India (2)
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Accord women equal rights to land and other
natural resources, property, housing, inheritance.
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Control real estate speculation.
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Repeal Land Acquisition Act (1894).

Develop a comprehensive National Land Reform
Policy.
20
Recommendations for Govt. of India (3)
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Implement good laws:

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Panchayat Act (1996) & 73rd Amendment Act –
devolves powers to local self governing bodies.
Forest Rights Act (2008).
Directives on joint registration of land – names
of men & women.
Hindu Succession Amendment Act 2005 - equal
inheritance rights for men & women.
Enforce:

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International human rights law.
Concluding Observations of UN treaty bodies &
Special Rapporteurs.
21
Recommendations for EU (1)

Ensure strong human rights protection clause is
included in the EU-India FTA.

Call for Human Rights Impact Assessments to be
conducted ex-ante and ex-post – for all trade &
investment agreements (requested by European
Parliament in November 2010).

Call for implementation of guidelines proposed by
Special Rapporteur on right to food regarding land
acquisitions & the UN Basic Principles and
Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and
Displacement.
22
Recommendations for EU (2)
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Issue guidelines for European investors in India
that ensure protection of human rights.

EU and India should respect rights of urban and
rural poor, and protect small farmers and
informal workers.

Use Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of India at
the Human Rights Council (May 2012) to promote
the realisation of human rights to food/land in
India.
23
Conclusion
Guaranteeing rights of people to own,
control and manage their land and other
natural resources is critical to promoting
food security and well-being, and to
protecting multiple human rights
24

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