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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Maya spanner in Centre’s UP projects, cost rises

Srinand Jha and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 27, 2011
First Published: 23:30 IST(27/10/2011) | Last Updated: 23:32 IST(27/10/2011)

Several central schemes, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s dream project of setting up a rail coach factory at Rae Bareilly, have been gathering time and cost overruns owing to the Mayawati government’s ‘indifference’, union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma says.

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The UP government has been dithering over the transfer of 69 hectares of gram sabha land that has been earmarked for the prestigious rail project.

“Environmental clearances were lately approved, but clearances relating to factory licences are still pending”, top sources in the UP government said.

Of the 541-hectare land sanctioned, 189 hectares total government land; 69 hectares comprise land belonging to gram sabhas, while 283 hectares have been acquired from private individuals.

“The UP government has been less than forthcoming in assisting the railways to complete the “identification formalities” for grant of compensation to private individuals,” railway board officials said.

Under the January 2009 lease agreement, the state government is committed to take possession of the gram sabha land and hand it over to the railways through a “conveyance deed”. But this has not been done despite several reminders sent by the railways to the UP government in past years.

Pursuing its case for outright purchase of land for the project (instead of the 90-year lease at present), the Centre is also fighting a court case with the UP government. Inaugurated in February 2007, project construction work started only towards mid- 2010. In between, the project has suffered a cost escalation from R1685 crore (sanctioned in 2006) to R2400 crore (estimated cost today).

The UP government said the farmers of Rae Bareli were unhappy with the compensation paid to them for their land acquired for the coach factory. But UP Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh said, “These are lies. Farmers got about 150% more than the market rate and barring eight missing families all accepted the compensation happily.”


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