ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Adivasis and the New Land Acquisition Act

Much work remains to be done if the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act has to mark a meaningful shift for India’s adivasi communities.

Among the worst excesses committed in India’s six decade-old democracy, the forcible displacement of rural Indians in the name of nation-building ranks high up. And within this, the brunt of the oppression, emanating from the state’s claim of eminent domain, has been borne by India’s adivasis. In 2011, the Twelfth Five-Year Plan blandly noted that of the estimated 60 million people displaced in development projects since independence, as many as 40% were adivasis; their share in the general population has hovered around 8%. That Indian society lacks quantitative or qualitative insight into violence against such communities for developmental and industrial projects is a measure of how policymakers and citizens have routinely devalued the adivasi point of view and experience. Photo, courtesy Chitrangada Choudhury Panna Jodi lost her son when the police opened fire at villagers protesting against forcible land acquisition in the bauxite-rich Rayagada district in December 2000.

The adoption of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 ( LARR Act), which received the presidential assent on 26 September, marks a long overdue move to end the colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894, the primary instrument through which the state forcibly evicted its citizens. The new law is potentially a step towards greater justice for adivasi communities.

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