Major Projects

Development Induced Displacement in Gujarat (1947-2004)

WaterAidThere has been much displacement of people in Gujarat as a result of the developmental efforts of the State, and it will increase under Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and Special Investment Regions (SIR). This study aimed at creating a data base of the quantity of land acquired by the state during sixty years, the number of families displaced or otherwise affected, and their socio-economic status before and after displacement. To that end, the study does sub-regional as well as decadal analysis. It was carried out in three phases:

Phase 1 involved scanning 80,000 Gazette notifications under the various land acquisition laws during 1947-2004, to find out the quantum of land acquired during this period.

Phase 2 involved perusal of official documents from the district collectors’ record rooms; project sites; various ministries; studies by research and government organisations; and materials preserved in documentation centres in the Legislative Assembly, the State Secretariat, and the university and research libraries.

Phase 3 looked at a representative sample of persons displaced (DPs) or otherwise affected by the projects (PAPs) in 139 sites in order to analyse the resettlement and compensation, and the social and economic costs of displacement and rehabilitation, by the projects.

WaterAidThe study showed that nearly 2.5 million persons – 5 per cent of the total population of the state – had lost their land and/or habitat, and fell in the category of DPs in post-independence Gujarat. The majority of them belonged to the powerless lower strata of society. Sixty per cent of them were from tribal communities. Irrigation, transport, communication, and industries were the main development projects which had caused a large number of displacements.

The narrative in most of the 139 displaced project sites across time, space and projects showed that the DPs were subjected to landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalisation, food insecurity, increased morbidity and mortality, loss of access to common property, and social disintegration.

WaterAidThe study suggested that (1) development-induced displacement should adhere to the principle of the 'larger good', which should not be decided arbitrarily by the state authority; (2) the affected community needs to be involved in the process, and its members have a decisive say in the 'development' project; and (3) the project should aim at reducing inequality, and enhancing freedom, economic opportunities, and the basis of self-respect.

This study was conducted by Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar, and resulted in the book, Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement in Gujarat, 1947-2004, Delhi: Sage, 2009.