Even as delays in land acquisition continue to slow down development of national highways in the country, the National Highways Authority of India succeeded in acquiring more land in 2013-14 as compared to the previous year.
In 2013-14, the apex highway development agency acquired 12,336 hectares of land, 4,331 hectares more than the area of land acquired during the previous year. The area of land acquired in 2012-13 fell to 8,005 hectares, from 10,735 hectares in 2011-12.
Out of the 17 states where NHAI acquired land last year, Rajasthan accounted for 2,422 hectares followed by Uttar Pradesh (2,398 ha), Haryana (1,463 ha), Odisha (1,368 ha) and Maharashtra (1,181 ha). In 2012-13, out of the 8,005 hectares of land acquired for development of national highways, Maharashtra accounted for 1,507 hectares followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,463 ha), Karnataka (959 ha), Uttar Pradesh (607 ha), Rajasthan (590 ha) and Odisha (518 ha).
The hurdles faced in land acquisition for development of national highways are due to various factors. These factors include delay in appointment of competent authority, frequent transfer of officials, disputes over compensation for land acquired, delays in valuation of structures and other assets, outdated revenue records, delays in arbitration and pending court cases. The reasons for the delays faced in land acquisition vary from project to project and from state to state. Acquisition of land for national highway projects is governed by the National Highways Act, 1956.
On February 24 this year, Minister for Rural Development Birender Singh introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha for amending the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The amendments bring the National Highways Act, 1956, along with 12 other Acts under the provisions laid down for compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement in the LARR Act, 2013. The 13 Acts are used frequently for land acquisition. The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015, was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 10, 2015.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has initiated various measures to speed up execution of national highway projects. Till January 31, 2015, national highways measuring 3,038 km in length had been constructed under various schemes against the target of 6,300 km set for the current year. Out of the 17 projects awarded by NHAI during 2013-14, work has already commenced in 15 projects. Some of these projects have achieved 40 to 50 per cent progress. In 2012-13, the Letter of Award for one project, out of the 11 projects awarded by NHAI, was cancelled. As many as 26 projects out of 48 projects awarded were either terminated or their LoA cancelled in 2011-12.
LAND ACQUIRED STATE-WISE BY NHAI IN LAST THREE YEARS (IN HECTARES)
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Source: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways