Land Use Conversion for Urbanization: Two Case Studies of Misaligned Institutions and Diverging Objectives from Karnataka, India

Sheetal Patil, Seema Purushothaman, Sham Kashyap | 2023


Conversion of prevailing land use is at the heart of development strategies driven by industrialization and urban expansion. Apart from economic drivers, land use gets influenced by social, cultural and political factors too. Land use perspective plans have emerged as an important land management tool for development planning in India. However, with rapid and unplanned expansion of habitations, land use planning in rural as well as in urban areas has become more and more complex. Using examples from the state of Karnataka, we unpack key nuances of this process including legislations and institutions involved in land use conversion. The paper employs a combination of a) critical review of historical and contemporary frameworks of land management in the state of Karnataka and b) case studies with varied economic and institutional models, to highlight misalignment of institutions with conflicting goals. We argue that current institutional arrangements of land use planning and management are unable to hold the ground against economic drivers. Misalignment of Institutional objectives leads to exploitation of uncertainties by different agents. Divergence in the objectives of policies and an exigent, than pro-active and informed policy framing are found to be the main reasons behind such ineffective institutions and policies. A re-envisioning of institutional roles and linkages with each other is highly recommended in order to improve effectiveness, inclusivity and sustainable practices in land use conversion.