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India's 703 land conflicts "locked" 7.2% of GDP in last 3 years: Oxfam-supported report

By Our Representative
Identifying 703 ongoing land conflicts across India over the last three years, a new Land Conflict Watch (LCW) report has said that these have impacted over 65 lakh people and 21 lakh hectares (ha) of land, with "locked-in investments amounting to over Rs 13.7 lakh crore.
"Most of these conflicts were triggered by infrastructure-related projects and many involve common lands and not just private lands", the report, titled "Locating the Breach: Mapping the nature of land conflicts in India", states.
Supported by the high-profile international NGO Oxfam, the report says, "Infrastructure development, led by townships and real estate schemes, along with roads and irrigation projects, are causing the highest number (43%) of land conflicts, followed by conservation and forestry related activities (15%), such as compensatory afforestation plantation and wildlife conservation schemes."
Asserting that more than three lakh people have been impacted by 300 infrastructure-related conflicts, the report says, land conflicts over mining projects are the second highest cause of distress, with 8,52,488 citizens affected.
Giving details of the 703 projects involving Rs 13.7 lakh crore, the report says, these are "committed, earmarked, and potential investments", constituting 7.2% of India's GDP for 2018–19, though adding, "The total quantum of investment locked in all the documented conflicts is likely to be substantially higher."
It states, investments in infrastructure-related projects worth over Rs 7 lakh crore have been embroiled in land conflicts, apart from investments worth Rs 2.8 lakh crore in the power sector and Rs 2.7 lakh crore in the industrial sector, adding, "These are conservative figures as ascertainable data are not available for all 703 cases."
Pointing out that 68% of land conflicts relate to common lands, impacting 79% of all people affected by land conflicts, the report says, 12% of India's districts are officially affected by Left-wing extremis. These districts account for 17% of the total conflicts, constitute 31% of the conflict affected area, and 15% of the people impacted by conflicts.
According to the report, 60% of all mining related conflicts are found in Fifth Schedule districts, where forest-dwellers, mainly adivasis, live, adding, 75% of all conservation and forestry related conflicts, and 51.4% of mining related conflicts, involved the violation or non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs records, the Government of India recognises Fifth Schedule areas in 100 districts across 10 states (Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Telangana). of these, the report says, 182 land conflicts exist in 77 districts.
Further, says the report, acquisition of private lands is a reason for conflicts in 37.8% cases. Such cases impact over 30 lakh people and contribute to 71.4% of all investments locked in such conflicts. In 104 cases, the dispute has been going on for at least two decades, and in another 149 conflicts, the cases have remained unresolved for at least a decade.
Noting that in 188 cases (27%), private companies or businesses are involved in conflict, the report says, conflicts that involve both common and private lands are spread over the largest area – 14.5 lakh ha – and affect the highest investment of Rs 8.8 lakh crore.
Nearly 60% of all mining related conflicts are found in Fifth Schedule districts, where forest-dwellers, mainly adivasis, live
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has identidied 90 districts in 11 states Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala, where, the report says, there is land conflict-related violence caused by armed rebellious groups claiming adherence to extreme-Left ideologies arw waging war against the state.
As for the involvement of the land acquisition laws of 1984 and 2013 and the FRA in ongoing land conflict cases, the report says, a review of forestlands suggests 52% of conflicts did not have reference of the FRA. In cases involving revenue lands, 62% did not make references to the two land acquisition laws. In all, 308 land conflicts did not include references either to the FRA or revenue land acquisition laws.
Then, says the report, a total of 12 lakh people have been impacted by conflicts involving the FRA, on a total land area of 3,68,138 ha, involving investments that totalled Rs 2.24 lakh crore (Rs 2.24 lakh crore), comprising 16% of all the recorded investments locked in conflicts.
As for the land acquisition laws, the report records 266 such conflicts involving these, adding, both common and private lands, were involved in 138 (52%) of these cases, while in 126 (47%) cases, only private lands were involved.
Though conflicts involving land acquisition laws comprise only 37.8% of all conflicts mapped, they locked in 71.4% of all documented investments, pegged at Rs 9.82 lakh crore, the report adds.

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