Reflection Paper – Should development projects such as highways, dams, oil mining and other infra-structural projects that force displacement of local communities be built?
Regardless of their goal and whether undertaken by governments or private corporations, enormous-scale development or infrastructure projects often necessitate large swaths of land. As with physical displacement, the desire for land can cause individuals to be displaced from where they are now living. If people are not physically relocated, the project may still have an implication on their livelihoods or earning activities, either temporarily or permanently, including economic displacement or other environmental and social impacts that make it impossible for them to continue to live in the area.” While it is understandable that many people are concerned with the financial compensation or the necessity to find new accommodation, too little attention has been paid to other aspects of life that relocation affects (Escobar 161). Because for many people, “land is life,” and because people all over the world have place attachments (a sense of place), land acquisition projects and the resulting relocation and disturbance can cause great harm and difficulty. Even if the material standard of living improves, resettling can cause severe emotional distress and other social consequences. As a result, infrastructure projects that evict residents, such as highways, dams, oil pipelines, and mining operations, should be avoided.
Because the process of resettlement is so multi-dimensional, multi-factor, multi-actor, multi-scalar, and multi-level, I believe that these development projects should not be implemented. People being resettled are influenced in various ways due to their vulnerabilities, capacities, status, and interests. Resettlement, or at the very least the initiative that triggers it, may benefit certain people by providing them with access to work or entrepreneurial prospects. Restitution is not enough to make up for the loss of things that are important to others, such as their memories or cherished landscapes (El Jack 71).
The relocation brought about by a project can be significant. As an illustration, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colton mining has resulted in the construction of mining operations that deforest, promote harmful land-use practices, and create widespread pollution of the soil, water, and air. Agricultural production and economic potential in the region are negatively impacted due to this degradation. Resettling tens of thousands and thousands of people is not uncommon (Hayes 67). As a result, resettlement efforts are sometimes viewed as “projects inside projects” and are capable of becoming megaprojects on their own. Small or large, every relocation effort should be seen as a major undertaking due to the financial and social toll they can have.
It is unforgivable to dismiss the detrimental social repercussions of relocation as ‘acceptable collateral damage’ or a ‘necessary evil’ to achieve national growth. People touched by a project have various rights, including fundamental human rights that are universally recognized. In addition, they are entitled to certain legal protections, which differ from country to jurisdiction. Sometimes, they may be entitled to customary or traditional rights and privileges. It’s also important to keep in mind that international rules govern the relocation process. However, even with these protections and guidelines, resettlement’s negative effects cannot be prevented entirely (Hayes 81). Projects in the public interest may necessitate the displacement of some persons due to land acquisition requirements. Whatever the circumstances, even if only for a short period, this resettlement will have a detrimental social impact, even if it is only temporary.
According to Hayes, people are forced out of their homes and businesses for various reasons (87). By definition, large footprint projects require a large amount of land, including airports, dams, mines, industrial estates, large-scale housing developments, tourism developments, industrial agriculture, and forestry activities. Developing linear infrastructure requires land, such as highways, bridges, railways, pipelines, and transmission lines. Some linear projects, such as pipelines, may not necessitate the relocation of many households due to the tiny amount of land they require and their flexibility. Sharp turns are impossible for other linear projects, such as motorways and railways. Many people may have to be relocated due to this technological component and the large buffer zones it necessitates. When a project is built or operated, it can cause significant disturbance to people’s everyday lives and livelihoods because of the physical fragmentation and splintering of the terrain. In some urban regions, even small-scale local developments (such as retail malls and metro stations) can significantly impact people’s lives and livelihoods. Renewable energy projects (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass) have become problematic because of their rapid spread and the cumulative impact on the land, particularly when the customary title is claimed.
Infrastructure projects that evict residents from their homes should be avoided since they tend to occur in rural areas, where there is a scarcity of suitable land and other concerns that can lead to evictions and subsequent migration from rural to urban areas. Urban areas might also be subjected to forced resettlement. Relocation from an urban area to a rural area is less common, although it is possible. Most urban redevelopment initiatives, as well as new or upgraded urban infrastructure, necessitate the relocation of people. Displacement of people can be significant when new transportation infrastructure is built. This includes freeways, ring roads, bridges, train and metro lines and stations. It is also possible to create resettlement by creating industrial parks, retail parks, significant sports facilities, and urban parklands (green spaces). The London 2012 Olympic Games, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil have been associated with recent resettlements.
Many social and environmental problems are a result of project-induced displacement. Numerous additional effects are produced by the projects themselves, both for those who are relocated and those who are not (Colson 100). Although international and national land acquisition norms should be followed, they are not always adhered to, and even when they are, they do not always guarantee the best outcomes for the people being resettled. Unfortunately, instead of gaining support for the project by negotiating in good faith with the affected people, governments frequently rely on their power of eminent domain and implement expropriation procedures without providing proper consultation or compensation.
The practice of resettlement has generally been subpar despite established protocols for how to perform resettlement governance and direction about what is expected in scholarship concerning the repercussions of displacement and reflection. Unrealistic timetables and insufficient finances for implementing the relocation, poor compensation arrangements, and the provision of compensation in cash rather than through land-based resettlement are some of the problematic features of resettlement practice. Resettlement teams’ inadequate makeup (too few members, a lack of skills and expertise, an incorrect gender balance, and a subpar evaluation of the project’s land requirements, made more difficult by changing project plans) is another issue (Colson 109). These projects should not be built for some reasons, including inadequate baseline data, a poor estimation of the number of people and buildings affected, poor management of the snipped date, and poor consultation with impacted communities. Continued project-induced displacement should end due to poor awareness of and attention to the legacy issues resulting from previous projects and the local social-political history, as well as a failure to control property speculation and the profit maximization of various actors, including the affected communities.
From the standpoint of the project’s proponents, these problems ultimately cause budget overruns and project delays. Delays are also brought on by protests organized by the affected communities, local, regional, and national organizations, or national and international watchdog NGOs. Resettlement and livelihood restoration operations that are not adequately costed may cause communities to suffer and fail to produce the desired project results. The project might eventually need to make compensation as a result of this. The main problems affecting resettlement programs are mentioned below and have been previously documented (Escobar 165).
The shortage of suitable land to relocate people is arguably resettlement’s most crucial problem. Unused land is challenging to find in more densely populated places; as a result, the acquisition of land for the resettlement site itself results in displacement and has social repercussions on the host community. In less populated locations, there may be unoccupied land available. Still, it may not be suitable or equal to the property being seized for the project in terms of essential factors like agronomic quality, water availability, proximity to markets, and availability of public amenities.
For those impacted by the project, land dispossession is a big problem. People whose livelihoods depend on land typically also lose their livelihoods when the land is lost. It might be conceivable to restore or enhance their way of life if the land of comparable or higher quality can be found. However, suppose the displaced people had specialized local knowledge or farming techniques that were especially tailored to the distinctive features of their previous environment. In that case, their initiatives and land management practices might not be effective in the new situation (Escobar 171). As a result, training to help them adapt their strategies may be required to ensure sufficient livelihood restoration.
In conclusion, development projects such as highways, dams, oil, mining and other infrastructural projects that force the displacement of local communities should not be built because indigenous people frequently have deep cultural and spiritual ties to their homelands and to particular holy places which these projects can disrupt. Relocation inevitably separates them from their home and spiritual places, which might result in severe anomie, placelessness, and loss of purpose and identity. In cases involving relocation and resettlement, free, prior, and informed consent is crucial partly because of this. When people who can claim conventional ownership over land are relocated, their customary rights may also be lost. While giving displaced people safe, legal title over the land on which they are being resettled is always a desirable idea; it is particularly crucial when customary ownership is lost.