DMIC will have to extract 66% of water need from polluted rivers, ‘depleted’ aquifers

COUNTERVIEW

By Gaurav Dwivedi*
Since the inception of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), concerns have been raised by the local communities in different states about the large projects being implemented under it and their serious impacts on the ecology, land acquisition, local economy and livelihoods.
DMIC faces scrutiny about the operational mechanisms being used for implementation of projects like creation of multiple special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and public-private partnerships (PPPs).
Concerns have also been raised about the role of national and international financial institutions in pushing the projects further, the conditions these institutions impose for driving profits and their impacts on local communities. The issue of wider public consultations and the role of people’s representatives within local governments in decision making processes have been sidelined.
Concerns over environmental degradation, land acquisition, dispossession and loss for agriculture based livelihoods have been voiced by various groups including grassroots organisations, farmers, academics and researchers.
Projects implemented under DMIC use land pooling mechanisms for procuring land required for them rather than applying the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013. It has been argued that land pooling mechanism is ambiguous and misleads land owners to hand over their lands for project implementation.
For instance, in Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) land pooling mechanism works by taking 50 per cent of the land of each owner “deducted” at market price, the rest returned to the original owners as “developed” plots in re-designated zones under the new plan criteria.
A betterment charge would be levied on the original owners for the provision of new infrastructure facilities, deducted from the compensation award for 50 per cent of the land. In addition, each affected family is promised one job per family in the Dholera SIR.
It also includes Dholera Smart City, claimed to be identified as the first smart city in the country twice the size of Delhi and six times of Shanghai. It has already received Rs 3,000 crore funding from the government and looks forward to attract more from private investors.
Land pooling is done under Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act (GTPUDA), 1976 as enabled under the Gujarat Special Investment Region Act, 2009.While the town planning law contains provisions for the participation of local bodies and residents in the determination of compensation and award, it makes no provisions for ascertaining consent to land pooling for the project.
The rezoning under the new plan also sacrifices agricultural land by categorising the land as industrial or urban space. Hence the land owners, who are supposed to benefit from this practice, lose their ability to farm or provide for themselves as they had done before.
Another concern with the land pooling scheme is the time frame that the redevelopment requires. The owners will not receive their newly developed land within a year and thus must wait until development is completed.
The Dighi Port and Industrial Area in Maharashtra and Dharuhera Industrial Estate in Haryana have seen protests from local people against land acquisition and setting up industries in the region.

(Continued)

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.