Urbanization triggers land disputes in Indian cities

An Indian farmer arranges watermelons for auction in Hyderabad. Rapid urbanization and opaque land ownership laws are fueling land disputes across the country. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2018
0

Urbanization triggers land disputes in Indian cities

NEW DELHI: The rapid growth of Indian cities, combined with unclear land ownership, is increasingly triggering legal disputes, analysts said, while rights groups have reported violent evictions of poorer communities.
India’s urban population is set to grow by more than 400 million — more than the population of the US — to 814 million by 2050.
As land is sought for offices and homes, developers and officials face multiple ownership claims and unclear titles.
“We have very few records for urban lands, as they were not a priority before,” said Deepak Sanan, a senior adviser at the New Delhi-based National Council of Applied Economic Research.
“Land was only measured and recorded in the rural areas in the pre-colonial and colonial times, as this land was considered valuable and taxed.”
Many marginalized communities have been built on disputed land, and the advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network said some evictions have been violent and took place without proper consultation, consent, compensation or advance notice.
About 31 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population lives in cities and towns, according to census data. But analysts say the figure is based on a decades-old definition of urban areas, so the real number is close to 60 percent.
So-called peri-urban spaces have grown in the intersection of urban and rural areas, with lands once earmarked for agriculture being used for homes.
Meanwhile, India’s rank for registering urban properties fell to 154 from 138 on the World Bank’s Doing Business Index for 2018.
“We only have a presumptive titling system — it neither verifies that the seller or buyer is the indisputable owner, nor does it guarantee that the property is free from disputes,” Sanan said.
“So everything ends in litigation.”
Matters related to land and property make up about two-thirds of all civil cases in India, according to a study by legal advocacy group Daksh.
Land records are gradually being updated and digitized as India moves toward a conclusive land titling system. Several states are using blockchain technology to record land deals.
Rajasthan set up an independent authority to verify and guarantee land titles in its cities, the first state in the country to do so.
But other authorities remain focused on rural areas, said Frank Pichel, interim chief executive of the Washington DC-based Cadasta Foundation, which develops digital tools to document and analyze land and resource rights information.
“There is certainly a growing demand for mapping urban lands with the rising value of these lands and the potential for conflict. But, for now, the focus remains rural,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at a land conference in Delhi.


‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

Updated 20 September 2018
0

‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

  • Trump highlights US security role in region
  • Comments come ahead of oil producers meeting in Algeria

LONDON: US president Donald Trump urged OPEC to lower crude prices on Thursday while reminding Mideast oil exporters of US security support.
He made his remarks on Twitter ahead of a keenly awaited meeting of OPEC countries and its allies in Algiers this weekend as pressure mounts on them to prevent a spike in prices caused by the reimposition of oil sanctions on Iran.
“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” he tweeted.
“We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”
Despite the threat, the group and its allies are unlikely to agree to an official increase in output, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing OPEC sources.
In June they agreed to increase production by about one million barrels per day (bpd). That decision was was spurred by a recovery in oil prices, in part caused by OPEC and its partners agreeing to lower production since 2017.
Known as OPEC+, the group of oil producers which includes Russia are due to meet on Sunday in Algiers to look at how to allocate the additional one million bpd within its quote a framework.
OPEC sources told Reuters that there was no immediate plan for any official action as such a move would require OPEC to hold what it calls an extraordinary meeting, which is not on the table.
Oil prices slipped after Trumps remarks, with Brent crude shedding 40 cents to $79 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London while US light crude was unchanged at about $71.12.
Brent had been trading at around $80 on expectations that global supplies would come under pressure from the introduction of US sanctions on Iranian crude exports on Nov. 4.
Some countries has already started to halt imports from Tehran ahead of that deadline, leading analysts to speculate about how much spare capacity there is in the Middle East to compensate for the loss of Iranian exports as well as how much of that spare capacity can be easily brought online after years of under-investment in the industry.
Analysts expect oil to trend higher and through the $80 barrier as the deadline for US sanctions approaches.
“Brent is definitely fighting the $80 line, wanting to break above,” said SEB Markets chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop, Reuters reported. “But this is likely going to break very soon.”