The politics of property in land: New planning instruments, law and popular groups in delhi

Raman, Bhuvaneswari (2015) The politics of property in land: New planning instruments, law and popular groups in delhi. Journal of South Asian Development, 10 (3). pp. 369-395. ISSN 09731741

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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.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: New Delhi | Politics of urban land | Production of property | Property rights | Squatters
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Development
JGU School/Centre: Jindal School of Government and Public Policy
Depositing User: Mr Sombir Dahiya
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2022 07:18
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2022 07:18
Official URL:
Additional Information: The first phase of field research for this paper was undertaken between November 2013 and February 2014 and funded under the EU’s Chance2Sustain programme coordinated by Professor Isa Baud of the University of Amsterdam. The author continues to research on the colony till today. I thank Geert de Neve, Henrike Donner, Vegard Iversen and an anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Any remaining mistakes are my own.


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