CRS Seminar: Displacement and Dispossession through Land Acquisition: Kerala Experience
Guest speaker: Bushra Beegom, Assistant Professor in Sociology, University of Kerala (India)
India is a land of human displacement as it is going through various phases of development. More than sixty million people have been displaced since independence due to infrastructural and various developmental projects. People are deprived of their livelihood, resources and amenities due to land acquisition for development projects which effects radical changes in the existing power structure, community consciousness and social relations of the affectees in the region. Beyond that the cultural and psychological trauma associated with human displacement is endless. As it is a developing country, acquisition of land for implementing development project is inevitable. India followed until recently the draconian Land Acquisition Act of 1894 which permitted acquisition of land for public purposes. Even though there are amendments made to the Act and in 2013 a new Act was formulated for land acquisition and rehabilitation, there are still many problems faced by the people in association with human displacement and debates on ‘public purpose and fair compensation’ still goes on. Concepts like resettlement or rehabilitation have been neither properly perceived nor fulfilled in the proposed or finished projects. With the emergence of private sector and capitalistic aims, this augmented the deprivation and disruption of socio cultural structure. There are many issues related to land acquisition, fair compensation and rehabilitation of affectees. I examine the Indian experience of displacement, resettlement and rehabilitation by selecting two cases in the southernmost state in India, Kerala. The case of the Vizhinjam International Fishing Harbour project deserves global attention. The second one is the ICTT Project (International Container Transhipment Terminal). I intend to present the history of the projects, nature and extent of people displaced, challenges associated with ‘fair’ compensation and the failure of social policy to recognise the problems of affectees. The finding explicitly shows how the state perpetuates and shapes the lives of marginalised people.
Bushra Beegom is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Kerala (India) . Her research interests are in the sociology of development, development induced displacement, and rehabilitation of affectees . She was the Director of a research project funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research and University Grants Commission, India. She also explored gendered dimensions of displacement and the rehabilitation of women specifically.