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The Politics of Property in Land

Bhuvaneswari Raman

Journal of South Asian Development, 2015, vol. 10, issue 3, 369-395

Abstract: Alongside the policy of promoting real estate in land as a vehicle for driving accumulation and financing urban development, the Government of India introduced a policy to provide property rights to squatters as part of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) programme, an urban poverty alleviation scheme. Based on ethnographic research carried out in the Kathputli Colony, a squatter settlement in Delhi, this article examines the politics of creating in-situ property rights under the RAY. The article illustrates the manner in which property rights are produced and reconfigured through contestations over their meaning and boundaries. The making of property at the Kathputli Colony constitutes a fluid and conflictual process, influenced by several actors, including urban planning authorities, courts, non-governmental organizations and colony residents. My analysis of the process reveals how the planning authority mobilized a language of legal rights for squatters as well as participatory planning instruments to facilitate the transformation of land held by squatters into upmarket residential and commercial real estate. I chart how these manoeuvres have been contested by Kathputli Colony residents in an ongoing struggle to obtain land rights. Yet, the political space to negotiate such rights is curtailed by changing definitions of property rights and by closed institutional and legal framework underpinning RAY.

Keywords: Property rights; production of property; squatters; politics of urban land; New Delhi (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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