The government has begun setting up specialised units to address the politically contentious issue of land acquisition for national highways.
This move will hasten the execution of the National Highway Development Programme that has been saddled with long delays due to various reasons, including villagers’ reluctance to dispose land for roads through their areas.
A report prepared by the statistics and programme implementation ministry has shown that out of the 195 under-construction highway projects, each worth more than Rs 20 crore, 41 are delayed due to problems of land acquisition.
The delay has not only led to time and cost overruns, but has also discouraged prospective bidders from taking up projects.
The government plans to award 12,000 kilometres highway projects to bidders by the end of this financial year.
“We would certainly like to bid for highway projects but land acquisition and law and order problem in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal has made us rethink about venturing in these road projects,” a senior executive of road construction company told Hindustan Times on conditions of anonymity.
The government plans to set up 170 special land acquisition units (SLAU). Of these, maximum number of units — 25 each — are being set up in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala, the two states where land acquisition been mired in problems.
Since the last two months, 55 units have been set up. This includes 20 in Tamil Nadu, 4 in Karnataka, 23 in Kerala and 9 in Orissa.