Planned efforts to relocate human populations often entail protracted struggles over the terms on which local populations may be compensated for the loss of land, assets and livelihoods. In many instances, compensation has been established on the basis of historical market value, which in effect excludes stakeholders (e.g., encroachers, landless laborers, sharecroppers, etc.
) whose livelihoods are adversely affected by land acquisition. Establishing ways of recognizing and compensating the loss of informal land and livelihood is therefore a pressing policy priority. This paper explores the challenge of compensating losses incurred as a result of rapid urban land acquisition in the Indian State of West Bengal. Drawing upon 6 months of empirical field research, it explores (1) the ways in which national and local development authorities have structured processes of land acquisition in areas surrounding Kolkata; (2) the rights and entitlements that have been used in compensating losses incurred as a result of land acquisition; (3) the degree to which local populations have been incorporated into this process; and (4) the extent to which public policy may be used in strengthening the rights of vulnerable populations to basic forms of entitlement, such as housing, employment, and social assistance.