Eminent Domain

A CNN IBN snippet on the Bangalore Metro, justified monetary compensation plus expenses of relocation, to affected persons, on the ground that efficiency of the project will be impeded otherwise. I don't know if the CNN IBN, or the journalist concerned, or the MD of the Bangalore Metro Group, had at any point, thought about whether the media, the company, the Land Acquisition Officer needed to reason why a person's house, shop, livelihood must be eaten up. The TV capsule was geared towards reasoning how/when/ on what time schedule they must be engulfed, what mode of compensation mus be adopted, to shut their protesting mouths the fastest.

One of the more lasting memories of a law class back in law school, for me, was the one I which I was explained Eminent Domain. That we live within a grand democratic constitutional framework, which has in its skeletal framework, ingrained, a fundamental un-right- that this body of and, water, forest, minerals, everything- you have no right over any of it. In the constitutional law class, it almost sounded like as everyday a necessity of governance, as a law student considers the need that bureaucrats will determine pretty much everything about living the democracy-life- because it all makes, in an efficient kind of way.

And this story about the Bangalore Metro, hence, made sense (almost common sensical) in the same way "efficient" kinda way. Just like the state's sudden hunger for land, water, bauxite, air, space, roads, flyovers, airports all make sense. It is a grab in the interest of efficiency.

Whether the state must grab, is an irrelevant question today, the spotlight being on how the state can grab with least trouble. We were shown 'public interest' as the grand check against abuse of éminent domain' powers. Only 'public interest' would warrant such an inroad into democratic freedoms. And Industry, Power, Minerals, Roads, Ports, Flyovers, Metros are Public Interest. So there is really no issue there. In the way that we were taught that it all made sense. In the efficient kinda way.


The state should just stay out of all this.

Means less work for us bookrut types.

MISSquoted** said…
Oh but you should see Bangalore. Its a city crumbling under its own very weight. And therefore a massive infrastructure revamping is required, not to mention expanding the poor, tiny city itself.
I feel the deal is quite fair. people are paid according to the land prices in that particular area. Seriously, couldn't be fairer.
anglophilicbong said…
I am not making any ideological argument against the need for land to build infrastructure, just ruminating about how the nation-state maybe thinking only for the professional middle-classes that need the flyovers and highways and everything else, for which the lives of millions of people, numerous ecologies, socio-economic fabrics have to be turned upside down... I just think that it is a little odd that this middle-classy worldview should be considered the fairest deal on the rest of the populace.
Ritwik Banerjee said…
Enjoyed reading your post. I am a person from the anti-urbanization, anti-consumerism camp. This might look like advertising, but I think you will like my post along the same lines.

At Alfred Purfock: a rather haplessly radical view, don't you think?
John said…
AB, you're being unnecessarily communist. Clearly, Bangalore needs a Metro, and fast. And land acquisition is the only way to go about it. Maybe you should contribute to the debate on a fair, impartial land acquisition policy? You cannot kill eminent domain. Might as well try and make it more humane.
anglophilicbong said…
hey john, i don't know about being communists, considering they like the land-pimping game these days too... but yeah, i am being unapologetically pissed off with the developmental state. And the liaison between state, big capital and people like us who form the 'progress' bandwagon.... and use the jargon to justify and normalise routine violence and deprivation of a large number who are not part of the 'progress' bandwagon.

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