The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is in its final stages of acquiring 80 per cent of the land required for Work Plan I. It requires 30,000 hectares. Work Plan I is the list of projects to be awarded till June this year, under which 126 projects worth a total of Rs 1 lakh crore will be awarded.
“The pace of land acquisition is four times more than what it was earlier. We are in the process of acquiring 80 per cent of the land for the projects to be awarded under the first work plan,” said a senior NHAI official, who did not want to be identified.
The official added that the states are also cooperating and things are going well. “Bihar is performing brilliantly, West Bengal is doing well and the land acquisition for the projects is in process in Goa,” he added. The time taken in land acquisition has been drastically brought down to 12 months from 24 months earlier.
“We started the process in September and the land acquisition is on. They will actually convert on ground during the April-June quarter,” the official said.
Around 70 per cent of infrastructure projects in the country have been delayed due to land acquisition problems. The road ministry under Kamal Nath took up the issue and the highways’ authority set up special land acquisition units all over the country to streamline the process. Ten such units are in Rajasthan, 13 in Bihar, 25 in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Gujarat, 11 in Orissa, 13 in West Bengal, four in Jharkhand, 11 in Maharashtra and five in Assam and around 41 are in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Goa.
The ministry has also created a post of joint secretary (land acquisition) to monitor the whole process.
Kamal Nath, after joining as the road and transport minister, set a target of building roads at a pace of 20 km a day. To achieve the same, NHAI plans to award over 200 projects worth Rs 2 lakh crore by the end of 2010-11. The highways authority has revised various eligibility conditions, including raising the net worth criteria of the bidder, to restrict frivolous bidding.