Land Conflicts and Cooperatives along Pune's Highways: Managing India's Agrarian to Urban Transition

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Land Conflicts and Cooperatives along Pune's Highways: Managing India's Agrarian to Urban Transition

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Title: Land Conflicts and Cooperatives along Pune's Highways: Managing India's Agrarian to Urban Transition
Author: Balakrishnan, Sai Swarna
Citation: Balakrishnan, Sai Swarna. 2013. Land Conflicts and Cooperatives along Pune's Highways: Managing India's Agrarian to Urban Transition. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: The past ten years has been a decade of land wars in India. Rapid urbanization is spilling beyond city boundaries into the highways connecting large cities, instigating a frenzied consolidation and conversion of agricultural lands into urban/industrial lands. This process is fraught with conflict, as different social groups compete to stake their claims on the land value increments - the increases in land value due to the change in land use from agricultural to non-agricultural - of these newly converted highway lands. Against the backdrop of conflictual land consolidation processes, this dissertation examines the unique case of the Pune highways, located in the state of Maharashtra in India. Along some of Pune’s highways, agrarian landowners – sometimes voluntarily and sometimes with the mediation of bureaucrats – are pooling their fragmented agricultural lands, converting them to urban and industrial lands, and forming collective institutions of land ownership to own and control these newly converted highway lands. In other words, agrarian landowners along these highways are not being displaced from their lands. Instead, they are capturing some or all of the land value increments, and are benefiting from the urban transition. I examine the conditions that made these collective institutions possible in the Pune region, and the possibility and desirability of transferring these conditions to other regions elsewhere that are mired in similar land conflicts. My main finding is that the core of India’s land conflicts is a change in the valuation of land from fertility to location. This new, highway-induced restructuring of the land market interacts in complex ways with older caste-based forms of agrarian land control and these changes in land-based social relations is the source of conflict. India’s rapid urbanization along highways is taking place not within cities, but in-between cities, and is leading to new forms of politics that defies the urban-rural dichotomies. I also use Pune’s land conflicts and cooperatives as a window into the broader phenomenon of India’s 21st century transition from an agrarian to urban economy, and articulate the major elements of the new regional institutions that are needed for managing land markets during an uncertain urban transition.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:11051195
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