Development Induced Displacement: A Neoliberal Paradigm

Published date01 August 2015
Date01 August 2015
Subject MatterArticle
Vinod Kumar*
This paper highlights the underlying philosophy of neoliberalism
that shapes global approaches to development and to development
induced displacement. Focusing on global economic forces, as
much as local political connivance, the p aper maps the ideological
framework which legitimates and norm alizes displacement not
as a mass human rights violat ion, but as a necessary a djunct
to the venerated goal of development. In particular, the author
examines the role of law as an instrumen t of, and the role of the
constitutional instit utions such as-legislature, executive and the
judiciary as privileging the interests of, local and global capital
over the human rights of poor popula tions at the receiving end
of such displacement.
I. Introduction
“Development Induced Displacement” can be defined as forcing
communities and individuals out of their homes, often also their homelands,
allegedly for the purposes of development.1 This is a form of enforced
displacement and is a subset of enforced migration. Development induced
displacement is not a localised occurrence confined to India a lone. Rather,
it is a worldwide phenome non and one t hat espec ially prevai ls in a la rge
part of the third world. Each year approximately fifteen m illion people
are forced to leave their homelands worldwide following big ‘development
projects’.2 Poor masses of India, in particular, are some of the worst victims
Associate Professor, National Law University, Delhi.
1 Bogumil Terminski, ‘Oil-Induc ed Displacement and Resettlement: Social Problem and
Human Rights Issue’ (2011) Research Paper School for Internation al Studies Simon Fraser
University Vancouver sol3/papers.cfm?abstract _id=2029770 >
accessed 19 January 2015. See also Bogumil Terminski, ‘Mining-Induced Displacement
and Resettlement: Social Problem and Hum an Rights Issue (A Global Perspective)’ (2012)
Independent ers.cfm?abstract_id =2028490 > accessed
19 January 2015. Bogumil observes that development induced displacement deserves its
profound analysis and to have broad public debate for the reason of mass scale forced
displacement of poor people, tribal and i ndigenous communities in par ticular.
2 Michael M Cer nea, ‘Development-Induced and Conflict-Induced I DPs: Bridging
the Research Divide’ [2006] Forced Migration Review 25. See also, A Oliver-Smith
Journal of National Law University, Delhi [Vol. 372
of development induced displacement given the nature, extent and brutality
of its forms and manifestations. The extent and the gravity of the problem can
be understood from the fact that India has 3600 large dam s and 700 dams
are under construction.3 According to official statistics, about 50 million
poor people have been displaced in India during last five decades out of
which 21.3 million have been displaced exclusively due to the construction
of dams, 16.4 million for mining, 1.25 million for industrial development and
0.6 million for wildlife sanctuaries and reserved parks.4
In Bastar District of Chhattisgarh alone, more than one lakh tribal have
been displaced with the objective of exploitation of mineral resources under
mining projects. Most land acquisitions, especially in the ‘Red Corridor’ (the
Maoist controlled areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra
and Jharkhand) are t aking place by using the coercive power of state. This
is being done through deployment of Para military forces in the name of
fighting Naxals. Naxalism indeed provides legitimacy to state violence
for mass displacement. According to reports, by 2009, security forces had
got 644 tribal villages vacated at gun point.5 Not only the CRPF and the
local police but now the ITBP also has joined the anti Naxal operations.
This is despite the fact the Supreme Court in Salwa Judum ca se6 has held
categorically that the “fight against ter rorism and/or extrem ism cannot be
effectuated by constitutional democracies by whatever means that are deemed
to be efficient. It is the responsibility of every organ of the State to function
within the four corners of constitutional responsibility.” It is also signi ficant
(ed), Development & Dispossession : The Crisis of Forced Displacement a nd Resettlement
(School for Advanced Research 2009).
3 T he Perspectives Team, Abandoned: Development and Displacement (Perspective
Publication 2010) 69. This is a field study conducted by the Perspective Group. The Group
explores the ways in which the process of development systematically expropriated sections
of the population for the benefits of the powerful and dom inant section. According to the
study, the process is fostered through forest laws, in the name of preservation of wildlife
sanctuaries, the r ush to exploit mineral resources, the la rge dams, and the juggernaut of
urbanization and mor e recently through t he promotion of Special Economic Z ones.
4 Lok Sabha Secretariat, Dis placement and Reha bilitation of People Due to
Developmental Projects (No 30/RN /Ref/December /2013, 2013) 279470830/Displacement-and-Rehabilitation-of-People-Due-to-
Development> accessed 14 August 2016.
5 Arundhati Roy, Listening to Grasshoppers : Field Notes on Democrac y (Penguin
Publication 2009) XXI V. Arundhati takes India’s everyday tragedies and reminds us to
be outraged all over again. The book has b een written in response to new developments
in India that have seen the government launched a full sca le war against the triba l
communities in the name of f ighting Naxalism. The book se eks to defend rights to land,
forests and other natural resou rces of poor people of central India.
6 Nandini Sunder v State of Chhattisgarh (2011) 7 SCC 547.

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