The ongoing farmer agitation over land acquisition for the Yamuna Expressway project in Greater Noida, which has claimed three lives so far, is not a one off the case.
Nearly 30% of the road/ highway projects under the government’s ambitious National Highway Development Programme are running behind schedule on account of tardy land acquisition processes.
In some states such as 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.In Kerala, of the total land that has to be acquired for various road projects, only 202 hectare in government’s possession. Goa is another state with an abysmal land acquisition record. Of the total 442 hectare land to be acquired, so far the authorities have failed to take over even an inch of land under its possession. This has crippled the four laning of NH -17 between Goa-Karnataka border and Panaji and NH-4 between Maharashtra Goa border and Panaji.
Though Road Transport ministry officials say that in 2010, there has been a quantum jump in the land acquired, they admit there is a need to speed up work. “In 2010, we have acquired 8,533 hectare land as compared to 6,000 hectare in the previous year,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
The official added, “The delay has been on several fronts — procedural formalities for acquiring land, land under litigation, delay in disbursement of compensation to the affected land owners among others.”
However in Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, land acquisition has been quite remarkable resulting in speedy implementation of highway projects.