Land is a perennial source of conflict in all societies and even more so in predominantly agrarian economieswhere apart from being the principal asset, possession and ownership of land is the sine qua non of social respectability.
1) Land related Agrarian Issues :-
Farm, Farmers and Suicide
The average size of land holdings for India as a whole declined from nearly 2 Hectares (Ha) in 1951 to 1.32 Ha in 2000 . Holdings below 2 Ha is considered to be marginally economical.The decrease in land holding is the result of explosive growth of population, which resulted in economically non-viability of farming, reduced capacity of farmers to withstand stress.
The situation is aggravated due to climatic distress and fluctuations. India’s farmer being heavily dependent on monsoon and monsoon due to it’s very nature of dry spell and wet spell aberrationpushed the farmers to the edge that often result in farmer suicide.
Market fluctuations, slight increase in input cost and aforementioned climatic factors leaves the farmers of India in a perpetual cycle of crisis.
Unavailability of institutional lending , farmers often enter in to the debt trap of private Money lender. Lack of resources to repay outstanding loans often forces the farmer to go in for fresh borrowings, creating a vicious circlewhich causes deep distress. This debt burden often drives the farmer to suicide.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), during the period 2001-05, 86922 farmers committed suicide , out of whom 54% were from four States, viz, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.
To sum up the cause of large incident of suicidesare indebtedness, crop failure, decline in economic status, crop failure, dent in social position and inability to meet social obligations.
Expanding the agricultural baseby giving more support to small and marginal farmers primarily through ‘Self Help Groups’ (SHGs) and Cooperatives.
Transferring informal debt to formal institutions.
Rejuvenation of natural resource base particularly in rain fed areas.
More effective risk coverage to protect the farmers from risks like price and demand fluctuations, vagaries of weather and natural calamities.Farm insurance ad social security net.
Increased public investment not only in agriculture but for diversification of the non-farm sector within the rural areas to generate alternative livelihoodsfor farmers.
Poverty alleviation schemes to more specifically cater to the needs of poorer farmers with farmers’ organizations being involved in the design of such schemes.
Tenurial reforms, including empowerment of the tenants on the lines of ‘Operation Barga’ of West Bengalare still highly relevant for empowerment of poor farmers,particularly for giving them access to credit from financial institutions and increasing their stake in the growth of agriculture.
Consolidation of Land holding
2) Displacement related Issues :-
Displacement of people from their lands has been a source of conflict, even when government acquires land for a public purpose under the provisions of the law.Acquisition of land is necessary for the larger socio-economic development of a country.
Putting land to more economic use and thus increasing the economic returns to the society is the underlying principle for acquisition of land.Acquisition of lands is generally problematic as the persons dependent on the land are deprived of various benefits they derive from it – at times even livelihood.
The land acquisition laws provide for a reasonable compensation to be paid to the land losers. But generally the compensation so paid is inadequate because the evaluation of the market value of land is based on techniques which do not reflect the actual value of the land to the land loser. Land Acquisition Officers follow the prevailing prices as indicated by the registered sale transactions. This ‘official’ value of land is a suppressed value of land.
Absence of robust resettlement and rehabilitation plan, low compensation for land acquired coupled with bureaucratic hurdles brings a feeling of deprivation among the land losers and marks beginning of conflict.
There was no National policy on Resettlement and Rehabilitation until 2003 , since 2004 the policy is in place and provides the broad framework to counter the land acquisition conflict. The policy focuses on :-
To minimize displacement and to identify non-displacing or least-displacing alternatives.
To plan the resettlement and rehabilitation of Project Affected Families (PAFs), including special needs of Tribal and vulnerable sections.
To provide better standard of living to PAFs.
To facilitate harmonious relationship between the Requiring Body and PAFs through mutual cooperation.
Displacement is not unique to India.Studies around the world reveal key solutions on how to lead a no-conflict land acquisition.
Colombia introduced benefit transfer , by which the displaced population will be given one time land acquisition cost at market value with an agreement on proportional share of revenues , otherwise known as benefit transfer by the project or company in years to come.
Brazil also introduced theroyalties transferto the displaced population.
China introduced Post-resettle development fund(PRDF) , the project or company deposits funds in to it which are ultimately transferred to the displaced community.It also created Provincial resettlement Bureau , with professionals having expertise to look after resettlement and mandated to to look at virtually all aspects of Development-caused Forced Displacement (DFDR) operations in that province.
Canada introduced equity-sharing , there by making the land losers as investors in the project or company.This equity enables the communities to receive a share of project benefits as a partner, for the long term, proportionately with their land share in the construction of the project
Japan introduced two prong strategy :-
Payment upfront to the land owners leasing land for the reservoir, which would enable those farmers to develop for themselves alternative livelihoods, and invest the money received into non-land-based income generating activities.
Regular rent payments for the leased land, to be continuously paid to the local small holders for the life of the project. This way the leased land, although now deep under the reservoir waters, remains nevertheless a source of constant income for the affected farmers and their children. Rent payments supplement the initial upfront compensation and help to ensure livelihood sustainability even if the new alternative economic activities do not succeed from the outset or do not produce adequate returns.
3)SEZ- Special Economic Zone Issues :-
With a view to overcome the shortcomings experienced on account of the multiplicity of controls and clearances; absence of world-class infrastructure, and an unstable fiscal regime and with a view to attract larger foreign investments in India, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Policy was announced in April 2000. This policy intended to make SEZs an engine for economic growth supported by quality infrastructure complemented by an attractive fiscal package, both at the Centre and the State level, with the minimum possible regulation.
The main objectives of the SEZ Act are:-
(a) generation of additional economic activity;
(b) promotion of exports of goods and services;
(c) promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources;
(d) creation of employment opportunities;
(e) development of infrastructure facilities
The establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) has become a source of conflict,leading frequently to violence.
The SEZ conflict is also a land acquisition conflict and the solutions for this are:-
Industrial activities and SEZs are located in areas where they cause the least displacement and dislocation.
Do not usurp productive agricultural lands
Comprehensive lad use plan and searching for alternate sites.
Emphasis on more brownfield projectthan greenfield projects.
Minimizing the land allowed for ‘non processing’ with in SEZ.
4)Land Records Issues :-
The unsatisfactory state of land records is a major source of dispute between individuals as also between individuals and the government.
Such disputes sometimes take a violent turn.The problems of displacement of families by large scale acquisition are further aggravated because of the poor status of land records.
Land records management through digitization will not only help in the conflict resolution but also can help public from victimized by Land Mafia.
5)Solution to the conflicts arising out of Land management :-
Renewed impetus to land reform measures like redistribution of surplus land, vesting title in tenants and carrying forward consolidation of land holdings
Augmenting the banking system in the rural areas and make them more responsive to the farmers’ needs.
Redesigning poverty alleviation programmes to make them more relevant to the needs of small and marginal farmers
Helping farmer to find alternative means of livelihood by promoting public investment in non-farm activities.
Measures of increase SHG- Self Help Groups and credit lending.
Diversify risk coveragemeasures such as weather insuranceschemes and price support mechanisms