Jharkhand: The Trauma of Development and Displacement

Written by Dr. Md Afroz & Md Tabrez Alam

jharkhand 1

‘Bad governance fails government’ is being used synonymously to refer to the fragile political system. A democratic state transform citizens aspiration into policy documents and it barely take chance to legislate anti-people policy. Unfortunately, most developing countries political system functions under the influence of crony capitalism that compromises people’s aspirations. Jharkhand has such a tragic past in which preceding governments introduce many legislations & promulgations for land acquisition in the name of development which forced a large level of displacement having traumatic consequential effect.

The Governance of Government

Governance can be defined as the rules of the political system to mitigate conflict between different stakeholders. It is the proper functioning of institutions and their acceptance by the public. It ensures the effectiveness of the government through democratic engagements. The basic element for a successful government is governance in which how it exercises authority in managing the country’s economic and social resources for development. Now we can measure the government’s effectiveness in this definition. Despite having a democratic system of rule most governments do not exercise authority to meet the citizen’s aspiration of development. It does either for crony capitalism or takes some populist public sentimental move to disqualify genuine demands. Thus it is the citizen’s duty to backtrack the government onto fulfilling their citizenry demands. The formation of Jharkhand as a separate state in 2000 was actually articulated by the people of this land by hoping that it would bring regional development and realize the marginalized indigenous dream of own rule. After 20 years each preceding government only exploits resources blind deforestations, mining, and deceitful land acquisitions for their crony capitalists. Jharkhandi aspirations are being completely ignored. Although, local people have great hope for the present Hemant government. If it wilfully exhorts governance into deliverance it would be a real tribute to those who martyred their lives for Jharkhandi aspirations.

Development and Displacement

Development and Displacement is two different subjects yet married to each other. Ironically development pre-requisite displacement, it is a process of dispossession of people from their land for the very development of them.  In a democratic system, government act on behalf of the citizen to bring positive change in socio-economic front by raising the level of quality life of the population and the creation of local regional income and employment opportunities without damaging the resources of the environment. On quite the contrary government does developmental projects in the name of change in people’s life and later the people most in need of protection are displaced. Displacement has come to be acknowledged as the most challenging task for floating in industrial development projects throughout the world (Arundhati Roy).Industrial Development-induced displacement has mostly caused a downward “spiral of impoverishments.” The long drawn out, dehumanising, disempowering and painful process of displacement has led to widespread traumatic psychosocial consequences (Smitu Kothari 2000).

Disputed Land Acquisitions in the state

An estimated 7.7 million people in India are affected by conflict over 2.5 million hectares of land, threatening investments worth $ 200 billion. Land disputes clog all levels of courts in India and account for the largest set of cases in terms of both absolute numbers and judicial pendency. About 25 percent of all cases decided by the Supreme Court involve land disputes, of which 30 percent concern disputes relating to land acquisition. Again, 66 percent of all civil cases in India are related to land/property disputes. The average pendency of a land acquisition dispute, from the creation of the dispute to resolution by the Supreme Court, is 20 years. Since land is central to India’s developmental trajectory, finding a solution to the land conflict is one of the foremost policy challenges for India (Namita Wahi CPR Report, 10 July 2019).

Land is needed for industrialisation urbanisation or some public purposes. Acquiring land for development projects without providing for resettlement violates the basic rights of the tribal people; one can trace the history and can be seen in many forms of systematic marginalisation of the Jharkhandi people’s rights over the natural resources. The land, nature, Forrest, and water belong to them from decades, and several policies, the law has been passed to protect the rights of the Jharkhandis.

Yet there are several cases waiting for legal attention in the High Court as for example in a village of Bokaro a 12.2-acre property became a bone of contention between private landowners and the Jharkhand Industrial Area Development Authority. A legal tussle is underway as both parties claim ownership (Gaon connection, 10 Dec. 2020). Jharkhand government broke the law by taking fertile land from farmers for Adani (Business Standard, 3 Dec. 2020). M/S Bharat Coking Coal Limited vs The State Of Jharkhand on 19 November 2019, Ram Kailash Singh vs The State Of Jharkhand on 3 September 2020, Bimla Devi vs The State Of Jharkhand 17 March 2020, Shankar Choudhary vs The State Of Jharkhand 13 September 2018, Mihir Sharma vs The State Of Jharkhand 10 May 2019, Deepak v. state of Jharkhand 2013 (IndianKanoon.org). On several occasions, people held fierce demonstrations against forceful land acquisition in the state and it has been widely covered by media. Though it is out-rightly rejected citing opposition doing politics by misguiding people for their political benefit. But none of them seriously try to mitigate conflict amicably. There is a strong anti-capital sentiment in local folks suspicious of any development drive.

Forced displacement of these communities has caused them to relocate to unfamiliar and hostile environments, away from their traditional habitats. The process of forced displacement has increased their vulnerability to exploitation, pushing them to poverty, chronic malnourishment, starvation, and ill health, including serious psychological trauma. In the absence of adequate access to the forests, Adivasi and other communities are deprived of their food security and diversity, not only does it impacts their livelihoods, health, but also widens the existing gap of health inequities among Adivasi communities.

The Road Ahead

As development requires land as people require livelihood. If the government takes proper care of both where development should not be at the cost of people displacement but to improve the quality of life of people. There should be a strong legal course in resettlement and rehabilitation. Otherwise, any development projects would meet to Graveyards as many do in past. The present government has both people’s faith and support; it can take bold decisions on development issues through democratic means by people’s participation in decision making. Ultimately, a democratic government exercises authority for good governance and it is the key to the success of government.

Dr Md Afroz, teaches Political science & Public Administration @MANUU. He has obtained MPhil, PhD from Jamia Millia Islamia. His interest lies in; federalism, ethnic conflict, Nation-building, democratic decentralization and governance.

For more info.

[email protected]

Follow @khwajaAfrozSidd


MD Tabrez Alam, Doctoral Scholar @ Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi. As a researcher, the quest for knowledge begins from the fieldwork. Currently, he is working on Urban inequality and housing segregations in newly developed township India.

For more info.

[email protected]

Follow @ktabrezshams




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