The Political Economy of Urban Land in India: Key Issues

Neha Sami  | 17 November 2011

Abstract

As India urbanises and its economy continues to flourish, the issue of the acquisition, use, and development of urban and peri-urban land in the country has emerged as an important and urgent problem for governments at all levels (national, state, and city). Land markets in India are underdeveloped, the regulations governing them are unclear, and as cities grow, multiple interest groups stake their often-conflicting claims to scarce land, leading to conflict and contestation. These issues are only the tip of the iceberg, however, causing social unrest, leading to detrimental effects on economic development, and raising ecological concerns. In response, the Indian national government has proposed a revised ‘Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement’ (LARR) Bill that attempts to address various inadequacies in the current procedure for land acquisition and resettlement. In this context, this paper is intended to provide an overview of the political economy of land in and around Indian cities. It discusses the key issues that any proposed solution to the problem of urban land in India must engage with, including urban land tenure, mechanisms for land transfer, the tension between public, and private uses of land, the politics of land use conversion, and the various stakeholders involved in these processes.