Monday, 27 June 2011

Theft in the name of development and industrialization

The Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board [KIADB] plans to acquire (grab) 3,300 acres in Halligudi village, Gadag District off National Highway 63, about 500km from Bangalore. The farmers obviously are very upset and they say 72% land is fertile, won’t give up

This news is making all the headlines.

I went to the KIADB webpage to see what they actually do. The home pages says"KIADB - The land provider" whose land does it provide ? KIADB owns no land it always seizes someone else, mostly farmers who are politically less powerful.

KIADB describers it self as "a statutory body, constituted under Sec.5 of Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Act, [KIAD Act] – 1966, which provides for expeditious acquisition of lands for industrial and infrastructure purposes. KIADB, besides forming layouts with all infrastructure facilities for promotion of industries, also acquires lands in favour of various State & Central Govt. Departments/Organizations and Single Unit Complexes, for setting up their projects on stand alone basis."

This is legal plunder, the rotten idea that government can anytime snatch private property and provide just compensation, is arrogant and the worst form of abuse.

Bastiat in the great essay "The Law" says the below on legal plunder.
"It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.
What are the consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.
In the first place, it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice.
No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.
The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and sanction it. Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them."

This is not the first time government land grab is is doing it all the time in the name of industrial parks, SEZs, STPs, development corridors and other supposedly public goods and development projects.

There are many who view it as OK for government to acquire land  for development purposes, what these people do not understand is once you give such power to the government, it is bound to abuse it. Friedman says "Power to do good is also power to do harm". As in this case and many other before..... the government purposely abuses property rights.We should be very skeptical of power and anything that takes away decision making from the individual.

We indians urgently need to learn the importance of property rights and the significance in preventing power abuses besides promoting peace and prosperity.

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