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

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Land and Livelihoods Once More

The proposed amendments of the new land acquisition law will be a huge step backwards.

Upon the notification on 1 January 2014 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013, in an editorial (EPW, 4 January 2014) that commented on some progressive sections in that law, we cautioned that “the gains ... made can never remain secure as long as power remains in the hands of capital”. Little did we realise that a few months later a majority Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government would come to power and begin the task, on behalf of capital, of reversing some of these gains. And, that some of the Congress-led state governments – in June 2014, for example, Maharashtra and Haryana – would support the BJP government at the centre in this endeavour.

The latter is not very surprising, for the BJP-led government is only proving itself more adept at implementing the earlier Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s neo-liberal policy agenda, for instance, on building “smart cities”, 100 of them, if one were to go by the Union Budget for 2014-15, and the 1,483-kilometre Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), this one as part of its “Make-in-India” shove. Given the class and caste biases of the real-estate companies and their political backers behind the idea of the so-called smart cities that are going to be “greenfield”-constructed, they might just turn out to be what one writer has called scaled-up versions of the gated residential and office complexes already mushrooming in our existing cities. As far as the DMIC is concerned, well, the LARR Act has already extended the legacy of “public purpose” to it.

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