Intangibility of land as an asset to farmers in the future urbanization of India: the case of Dholera smart city

This doctoral research aims to understand what land as a resource means to farmers and how the idea of ownership of this asset changes over time. I explore land’s intangibility as an asset for farmers, arguing that, for them, it cannot be replaced with some materialistic value. I base this on the fact that the ‘right’ – the social relations in geographical space – which land as a resource carries is as important as its ‘physicality’. At the site of the proposed Dholera Smart City in India, land is the lone source of livelihood for farmers and the only social security for future generations to inherit. The farmers' realization and awareness of their un-employability in the new sectors in the proposed smart city adds further to its irreplaceability.

This intangibility of land is the biggest hindrance to the Indian state’s attempt to commodify land and this – rather than the amount of compensation – is the main factor behind their disapproval for the upcoming projects. The research intends to explore this dimension of intangibility of land to the farmers by devising a framework from the property angle.