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The Macro-Costs of Forced Displacement of the Farmers in India:

A Micro-Level Study Published in European Journal of Development Research advance online publication, 31 January 2013;doi:10.1057/ejdr.2012.37

Abstract The impoverishment risks caused by big industrial projects in India have led to widespread

landlessness and food insecurity among poor farmers. Under the provisions of a regime of

monetary compensation that dates back to the colonial era, the farmers obtain and utilise compensation

money in a manner that generally does not help them rebuild their household economies.

This article presents the results of a micro-level study of land dispossession in West Bengal carried

out during the period of communist government that coincided with a more general liberalisation.

The findings of the study reveal that land acquisition by big industrial projects has caused landlessness

and household-level food insecurity among poor farmers and has also endangered recent

land reform initiatives more generally. In particular, in the absence of the benefit-sharing principles,

the proposed Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill 2011 clearly seems inadequate to

reconstructing the damaged livelihood of project-affected farmers described in the article. The

insights from this study are relevant to hundreds of similar cases all over India.

Les risques d’appauvrissement que les grands projets industriels en Inde repre´sentent pour les

fermiers pauvres comportent en particulier le danger d’inse´curite´ alimentaire et celui de se voir prive´ s

de terre. Le syste`me de compensation mone´ taire datant de l’e´poque coloniale ne permet pas aux

fermiers d’utiliser leurs indemnite´s de manie`re a` reconstruire leurs e´conomies me´nage` res. Cet

article pre´sente les re´ sultats d’une e´tude micro-e´conomique de la confiscation de terres au Bengale

occidental, entreprise pendant la pe´riode de gouvernement communiste dans un contexte plus

large de libe´ralisation e´conomique. Les re´sultats de l’e´tude re´ve` lent que l’acquisition de terres par

de grands projets industriels a ge´ne´re´ une grande inse´curite´ alimentaire au niveau des me´nages de

fermiers pauvres, mais a aussi compromis les processus re´cent de re´forme agraire au Bengale. En

particulier, l’absence de principes de partage des be´ne´ fices semble rendre inade´quat le projet de loi de

2011 relatif a` l’acquisition et le re´ame´nagement des terres, en tout cas par rapport au re´tablissement

des moyens de subsistance des familles de fermiers pauvres de´ crites dans cet article. Cette situation

est aussi pertinente aux centaines d’autres cas similaires en Inde.

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