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Land, Bargaining, and the Negotiating Lives: A Case of Displacement in Talcher Coalfields of Odisha, India


· Suravee Nayak Centre for Development Studies (Trivandrum, Kerala, India)


07/28 | 09:00-09:20 UTC+2/CEST


Coal mining has been very central to both colonial and independent India’s economic activity. Given the widespread coal extraction in order to fuel rapid industrialization and energize the country, displacement is an inevitable consequence witnessed in rural India due to large scale land grab by the state under Coal Bearing Areas (CBA) Act of 1957 and Land Acquisition (LA) Act of 1894. A large body of literature has explored the impact of displacement on the rural households in coal-bearing areas (tribal and non-tribal areas). However, the present paper attempts to trace the different struggles of displaced across landed and landless Dalit households for their livelihoods after displacement, through long-term fieldwork during the year 2015 and 2018 in villages displaced for more than 10 years in a coal mining town of Odisha, namely, Talcher. The paper stresses the differentiated experiences among the people of Talcher evident from the sites of living and their labouring lives. Where the people belonging to land-owning households are able to reorganize their lives by securing permanent and temporary employment in the coal mines through various negotiations and blocking coal mines operation, the landless Dalits are forced to do casual labour and at times become coal collectors with little room for bargaining. The paper also shows that the landowning households resettle on either the land bought in nearby villages or quarters provided by the coal mines management, however, the landless Dalits are found to have been residing in an abandoned coal mining site.