One Part Farmers: Villages two decades after land acquisition for the Bengaluru International Airport

Purushothaman, Seema and Vanjari, Raghvendra S. (2022) One Part Farmers: Villages two decades after land acquisition for the Bengaluru International Airport. Working Paper. Azim Premji University, Bengaluru.

Full paper available here

Intensive cultivation of roses in patches of farmland remaining just outside the airport boundary wall

Abstract

Constitutional measures to ensure fair compensation and livelihood security to the land losing refugees of development processes, overlook the complexity of ‘public purpose’ – the dominant rationale behind operationalizing ‘eminent domain’ of the state. Popular perception of public purpose as urbanization muffles the de facto social citizenship around plural values of agricultural landscapes. Ignoring the enduring public purposes served by agrarian landscapes aids in underestimating the long-term welfare impacts on displaced farmers. This essay presents the impact of land acquisition for the Bengaluru International Airport on the agro-pastoral communities of Devanahalli. Visible changes in the landscape came with major uncertainties in their lives and livelihoods for over two decades now. The paper aims to contribute to the recent and connected theses around agrarian urbanism and plural values of landscapes, with narratives from Devanahalli. In what was almost a non-controversial choice of location for the airport, people from 11 villages to the north of Bengaluru city lost their land fully or partly, along with their habitat, village community and food cultures. In this study, narratives of representative cases of impact inflicted on different groups were collated and synthesized through short term longitudinal interviews. It showcases prolonged struggles to find secure livelihoods amidst persisting caste and gender divides, weakening cultural fabric and a loss of identity. Together they precipitate one-part farmers in the displaced and scattered people who still find a weak but persistent identity in agriculture. The paper concludes by deriving pointers on avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating potential impacts of projects involving inevitable displacement of agro-pastoral communities.

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