Urbanization and Disaster: Loss of Women’s Property Ownership in Leh, Ladakh
The Himalayan region along the northern border of India has been identified as a high-risk zone, vulnerable to earthquakes, landslides, flashfloods, and drought. Drawing on evidence from the mountain town of Leh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, this chapter explores how State interventions to promote development affect women, particularly with respect to their property relations. This chapter elucidates that development efforts have aggravated the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters. A focus on tourism and associated urban development has affected women’s land ownership as well as adversely affected the environment, which in turn has increased women’s vulnerability to disasters in multiple ways. Women’s property claims are not supported by State law or community practices, compounding their difficulty in disaster response and recovery. We argue for a better alignment of strategies governing urbanization and disasters to mitigate risks and improve disaster responsiveness. We also suggest the need for a shift in strategies, for disaster-risk mitigation to move beyond relief operations. Further, recognition of a heterogeneity of tenure forms that allow women, migrants and relatively weaker groups to establish legal claims on property is required.
KeywordsUrbanization Disaster Gender Land rights Leh Tourism
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