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POLITICAL ECONOMY OF LAND ACQUISITION FOR URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IN INDIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF STATE INTERVENTION IN KARNATAKA AND KERALA

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Using a comparative framework of two contiguous subnational units viz. the Indian states of Karnataka and Kerala, this research project seeks to assess the role of the state in the formulation and implementation of land use policies in urban areas. In the Indian context, the introduction of economic reforms and the subsequent decentralisation measures have led to regional state units competing more intensely amongst themselves for investment. Against this backdrop, the study examines how state-specific strategies and politics shape the nature of land use policies and ultimately their implementation. This analysis includes an examination of the linkages between decision makers and different interest groups as they seek influence in the governmental system.

The thesis examines two urban infrastructure projects, namely, Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit System and Kochi Mass Rapid Transit System. The study employs a hybrid conceptual framework of subnational comparison and state spatial rescaling to understand how land acquisition and conversion for the two projects is occurring through newly instituted state organisations, specifically Special Purpose Vehicles. Through macro and micro level explorations of states’ financial, administrative and political strategies, the thesis illustrates that these organisations in interaction with other state level bodies are able to circumvent many local laws and planning procedures to successfully acquire land for the two projects under consideration. The study concludes that due to similar patterns of state spatial rescaling administered across the two sites through the agency of Special Purpose Vehicles, the land acquisition for the two projects remains unaffected by regional differences between Karnataka and Kerala; instead, the two projects exemplify tendencies of convergence in land acquisition.
Original languageEnglish
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Award date2018

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