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New govt plan for highways

With delay in land acquisition continuing to be a major stumbling block in completion of road and highway projects across the country, the road transport and highways ministry is now planning to award all new projects only after there is a 100% land acquisition.

delhi Updated: Jun 23, 2011 00:06 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta

With delay in land acquisition continuing to be a major stumbling block in completion of road and highway projects across the country, the road transport and highways ministry is now planning to award all new projects only after there is a 100% land acquisition.

States which commit to acquire 100% land before the award of project tender would be given a priority, the ministry officials said.

As of now, it is mandatory on the part of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) - the central agency which builds highways - to acquire 80% of the land before any road project is awarded to private developers. But even the 80% benchmark has not helped in cutting down the delay.

“I have directed ministry officials to write to all state government to inform us about proposed road projects in their respective state for which 100% land can be acquired before awarding of tender. These projects would be given a priority,” Union road transport minister CP Joshi told HT on Wednesday.

Nearly 30% of the road/ highway projects under the government’s ambitious National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) are running behind schedule on account of tardy land acquisition process.

Joshi said a decision in this regard will be taken soon. "Once sates inform us to provide an encumbered free land, the project director would be made responsible to negotiate all formalities with the state before the project takes off the ground," Joshi added.

In some states like Kerala, inordinate delay in acquiring land for widening of stretches of National Highways (NH) resulted in scrapping of project altogether. Other states which have fared poorly in sorting out land acquisition issues include Goa, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Haryana.

A recent status report prepared by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation found 105 out of the 122 road projects running behind schedule. The delay period stretched between 1 to 5 years.