Gliding into 2023 with new initiatives at LCW

Warm wishes on the New Year from all of us at the Land Conflict Watch. 

We closed 2022 with our first annual dialogue, Holding Ground 2022. The theme this year for the dialogue was Land Dispute: Stalled Investments and Lives. We released three research reports and held conversations around them. 

Our lead report, Land Locked: Investments and Lives in Land Conflicts, analyses stalled investments and communities’ demands in over 600 ongoing land conflicts. In two other reports, Legal Terrain and (Un)Common Verdicts, we analyse legislations, judicial interventions, and judgments on land conflicts and common lands. You can find all our reports here.

Lives and Stories

Through last year you may have noticed us increasingly sharing our research and findings through different storytelling methods. Our researchers published 32 stories and 13 blogged Twitter threads on several land and environment issues. 

With these stories we try to connect the dots and show how citizens’ lives are shaped by India’s lands, its regulations and its political economy. 

We ended the year with two more stories. One from Gujarat and the other from Manipur. 

Our researcher Prudhviraj Rupavath found that Gujarat’s mega land digitisation project started by the then Modi government has turned into a chaotic mess with thousands of aggrieved farmers and overburdened officials. 

And, our Legal Research lead Mukta Joshi researched and wrote from Manipur on how the state government is demolishing several locally-owned homestays on the eco-sensitive Loktak Lake while planning for large multimillion-dollar projects on it.

You can read all the other stories we produced through the year over here. From reporting on the land rights of the marginal communities in different parts of the country to understanding how distant climate change negotiations shape our future, it's all there. 

Our Core Data

All the work we do emerges from our live database of land conflicts. This year we added new layers of information to each of the 700 plus case studies it maps. 

We added new information such as: the status of projects, significance of land to affected communities, role of land conflicts in stalled projects and the application of criminal law.

Our field researchers also added 80 new conflicts to our database last year from across the country. 

Last year saw increasing incidents of governments evicting people and carrying out demolition drives. We tracked them and provided understanding of how laws were being used or misused during these drives: In Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, Chennai’s Govindasamy Nagar, and in multiple cases from Kashmir and Assam. The evictees in most cases belonged to social or religious minorities, we noticed. 

This year, we hope to document more conflict cases and update our existing cases on a quarterly basis.

Planning 2023 with you

We are excited about a few projects lined up for 2023. 

We are currently looking at conflicts where criminal cases have been slapped against protesters. We hope to gather data on this over the next few months for an analysis. 

As India seeks to expand its renewable energy capacity, the stress on land as a resource increases. With documented evidence that such projects lead to land conflicts, we plan to closely follow these cases and issues with the existing policies. 

Then, we are in the process of mapping data on how women are disproportionately affected in land conflicts. 

And, we are investigating how a controversial Supreme Court judgment curtailed rights of citizens over their lands, by perversely reading down a provision of the country’s land acquisition law. 

A Request

Write to us. With suggestions, ideas, brickbats, bouquets, love, criticism, guidance and readings. Send it all our way. We need you to stay close to us as our researchers begin their work anew this year. 

And if you value what we do, introduce us to your friends, family and colleagues. Request them to subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.

Mrinali, Database and Collaborations Lead,
Furquan Ameen, Associate Editor