NEW DELHI, March 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Reforms to
the system, greater transparency and better practice are needed
to check lengthy litigation as rising demand for land in India
triggers greater conflict, analysts said on Thursday.
As land is sought for industrial and development projects,
more acquisitions are being contested in court, according to a
report from India's Centre for Policy Research think tank.
Nearly two-thirds of litigation before the Supreme Court
from 1950-2016 sought more compensation, according to an
analysis of 1,269 cases by its Land Rights Initiative.
"The process of land acquisition in India has been the
source of increasing political and legal contestation for almost
200 years," Namita Wahi, director of the Land Rights Initiative,
said at the report's release on Thursday.
"This stems from the inherently coercive nature of the
process, which creates a severe imbalance in power between the
state and land losers."
India has introduced several land laws in the past decade to
protect farmers and indigenous people. But the complex web of
legislation has not always helped the vulnerable.
Conflicts related to land and resources have stalled
hundreds of industrial and development projects, affected
millions of people and put billions of dollars of investment at
risk in India, according to a recent report.
India's Land Acquisition Act of 2013 replaced a colonial-era
law, providing higher compensation as well as resettlement.
But states say the law slows land acquisition for projects.
Several states - including Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan -
have passed amendments to make it easier to acquire land.
Inaccurate land records, undervaluation of sale deeds and
the absence of land markets in rural areas have led to lower
compensations and more litigation, the report showed.
"Legal reform is a necessary but not a sufficient
precondition for ensuring greater equity and efficiency of the
land acquisition process," Wahi said.
Alongside administrative reforms, "there is an even greater
need for compliance with the rule of law", she said.
(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Lyndsay
Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate
change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more