Patna HC to watch all NH projects in state to clear bumps
Taking a serious view of inordinate delays in land acquisition for major road projects in Bihar, the Patna High Court has started the monitoring all the national highways in the state to pass necessary orders for removal of hurdles in their completion.
Taking suo motu cognizance of the matter, the bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar, in the last week of March, ordered the court registry to register 40 writ cases so that the problems of each national highway could be taken up separately to speed up the process of land acquisition.
“The authorities shall expedite the process for acquiring the land with respect to each one of the projects for which the amount stands sanctioned. What is disturbing and distressing is, as is evident from the NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) affidavit, that only 15% (approx.) of the amount stands released and the remaining amount is pending, inter alia, for want of passing of the awards as per law,” the court observed.
The counsel for the NHAI, SD Sanjay, said the court would now monitor progress on a regular basis to ensure that hurdles in land acquisition were removed without delay. “The HC is already monitoring NH-83 (Patna-Gaya-Dobhi), NH-77 (Hajipur-Muzaffarpur), NH-2 (Varanasi-Aurangabad) and NH-80 (Munger-Mizachauki via Bhagalpur),” he said.
The NHAI had submitted in tabular form the current status of all the 43 projects undertaken in the state before the court and it pointed to delays in most of the cases for one reason or the other, viz. land acquisition of over 3,700 hectares in various parts, finalization of tender or allotment of work, handing over possession of land etc. Land acquisition was, however, the biggest issue.
As per the affidavit, during the Covid-19 pandemic in the financial year 2020-21, NHAI sanctioned ₹11,327.45 crore as payment for acquisition of land with respect to various projects undertaken in Bihar. The amount pertains only to the projects undertaken by the NHAI and not any other agency. However, ₹2,066.09 crore stands released and the remaining amount of Rs. 9261.36 crores is yet to be released due to delays in land acquisition.
The bench said that it had, in several orders repeatedly, emphasized the need of setting up of places of public conveniences on the National Highways and also need for setting up of petrol pumps having such facilities.
“The ministry of petroleum and the National Highway Authority of India have a workable plan for providing such facilities, which surely, when implemented in the State of Bihar, would not only boost its economy, but also generate employment so as to check migration of the residents of Bihar seeking employment outside the State. We cannot forget that all arterial roads to East/Northeast India passes through Bihar, which also has an international border,” it added.