From the 1990s when many Asian countries and other parts of the world embraced economic liberalization, speculative business interests in land have replaced state control of land use for developmental purposes. Large-scale land conversions and land grabs have exploded in Asia following economic globalization and many point to the years of 2005 to 2008, when food prices peaked, as the period of the global land rush. The growing demand for land by corporations and private investors has fueled several regional land rush waves, bringing them directly in conflict with communities who require these lands to continue their occupations and survival.
The following is the overview of a three-year study to scope the nature and extent of land use change in the three postcolonial Asian countries of India, Indonesia and Myanmar. It is organised as a set of three country chapters and detailed case studies from each country. The study analyses primary data on land use approvals for mining, hydropower, industrial estates and plantations over the last three decades in these countries as these sectors have caused large-scale land transformations. The approvals have been analysed for temporal, regional and sectoral trends in land use change. The study also draws from an extensive body of land use studies done by government, academics, international donors, investor coalitions and non-governmental organisations.
This research hopes to contribute to the understanding of the conditions and consequences of land conflicts arising from land use change. What are the reasons why land conversion proposals escalate into land conflicts, what are the strategies that affected communities adopt to address these and to what outcomes, are some of the questions the study investigates. These have been done with primary data collected from land conflict cases through semi- structured interviews as well as secondary sources such as media reports and published studies. The overall objective of the study is to understand how communities secure land and natural resources that are intrinsic to their basic human survival and livelihoods and to what effect. It aims to generate evidence and knowledge regarding the strategies and remedies extracted by affected communities in the face of project impacts and land conflicts.