National Highways Authority of India has begun the process of setting up more than 170 special land acquisition units (SLAUs) across the country to expeditiously deal with cases of land acquisition for the National Highways Development Programme.
In the last two months, NHAI had set up 20 SLAUs in Tamil Nadu, 4 in Karnataka, 23 in Kerala and 9 in Orissa. Similar units are also being set up in Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Andhra Pradesh.
Land acquisition has been identified as the biggest impediment for the government in implementation of road development projects. NHAI aims to reduce the time taken for land buys from 24 months to 11 months.
"Land acquisition requires an expeditious approach and the setting up of the SLAUs is a step in that direction," a senior NHAI official told Projectmonitor. "This will certainly speed up the process of land acquisition," he added.
The newly-established SLAUs, consisting of 20-25 members, have been placed under the charge of additional district magistrate (ADM) and sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) level officers. These units will operate for a period of one year and carry out a range of functions including preparation of notifications and awards, disbursement of compensation, referring disputed matters to arbitrators, and mutation. In order to ensure that the process of land acquisition is closely monitored at every level, district level coordination committees headed by district magistrates have been set up.
Meanwhile, NHAI is all set to commence work on the Bareilly-Sitapur section of NH-24 in Uttar Pradesh. Approval for widening the 152-km stretch from the current two lanes to four lanes has been received from the Central government. The Rs 1,046-crore project is a part of NHDP-Phase III.
"The tender process has been initiated and commencement of work is dependent on successful bidding. The project will be awarded on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis," said the NHAI official who is closely associated with the project.
"A consultant has been given the task of preparing the detailed project report and NHAI is monitoring its progress," he said. The due date for submission of bids for the project is October 26. The official added that widening of the stretch would result in significant socio-economic development of the region.
(See 'Expressways network: Land acquisition a major hurdle' at www.projectsmonitor.com/NEWPROJECTS/land-acquisition-a-major-hurdle)