‘India can expect rising civil unrest as result of massive land grab by investors for commercial projects’

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A new research has blamed Indian government agencies and investors for a growing spate of violent clashes in the nation’s forest and tribal areas.

The research, released on the eve of an international conference on land and forest rights, claimed that a massive transfer of resources from the rural poor to investors is underway in India, inciting resistance and conflicts in virtually all states of the country.

Top global experts have noted that India has joined the ranks of China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, as “land-deficit” countries, which are snatching up stretches of prime livelihood resources in developing nations to grow crops and extract commodities for domestic and global markets.

The ongoing land takeover in India is captured in new findings released by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development (SPWD) and illustrated on a map recording recent protests in 130 districts, most of which took place since 2011.

According to findings, India can expect rising civil unrest in response to major projects planned for the next 15 years, requiring over 11 million hectares of land and affecting the livelihoods and welfare of millions of people.

“Brazen takeovers of community-owned lands have become a burning issue in large parts of India,” said Shankar Gopalakrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, one of the researchers presenting at the Conference on Forests and Common Lands: Rights, Conflicts, Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA).

Viren Lobo, the executive director of the Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development added, “We have seen projects such as phosphate mines in Jaisamand, highway projects in Rajasthan and biofuel plantations in Chhattisgarh, and they all share a need for more and more land.”

“Such projects continue to claim two percent of the country’s common lands each year, ensuring they will face greater civil unrest across the country if the government doesn’t recognize the land rights of rural and tribal people,” he concluded.

The map recorded a large number of conflicts across India, most of which took place in 2011 and 2012, and identified such conflicts in 130 of the country’s 602 districts.

–ANI

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