Land Conflicts on the Horizon as India Pursues a Clean Energy Future
The record low tariff achieved by renewable energy projects in India, over the last few years, has been fuelling the clean energy sector in the country, but what it may also be triggering are land conflicts.
Many renewable power projects – whether solar or wind – require vast tracts of land and the experience of communities in India shows that the land identified for those projects is often either the common land used by the communities or the land that authorities identify as ‘wasteland’.
Experts point out that the selection of such land pockets is leading to conflicts as the rights of the communities, over such common land, are not identified. It is also damaging the environment as the land, often claimed as ‘wasteland’, is usually a non-forested but important biodiversity habitat.
Pranab Ranjan Choudhury, who is the convener of the Centre for Land Governance, a think-tank working on land issues, said that “though solar projects are not bad, the way the mega-projects are being aggressively promoted, can have disastrous consequences.”
Photo courtesy of Dana Smillie.