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NHAI land acquisition cost increases over 47%

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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has seen an increase of over 47 per cent in its cost in the current financial year. The highways authority now plans to use about 70 per cent of the proceeds raised through Rs 10,000-crore tax-free bonds in acquiring land for various projects.

A senior official said land acquisition cost to build one km of road has increased from Rs 85 lakh to Rs 1.25 crore in the current year. “Land rates across the country have increased. Many states are compensating more than the circle rates. Also, we have acquired a lot of land around Delhi where the land rates are high,” he said, not wanting to be identified.

The official said the authority had acquired 9,200 hectares of land in the current financial year — a rise of 700 hectares from the last financial year. “The acquisition of 9,200 hectares is the highest in over a decade. It will further increase in the next financial year when we acquire land for expressways,” he added.

Another NHAI official said there were various states where the compensation for land stood higher than the circle rates. “To ascertain whether this is actually the trend, we asked the officials to cross check the rates with the beneficiaries,” he said. “There was no discrepancy. But we still do not know what is actually happening on the ground.” Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka are the four states where NHAI is seeing the maximum increase in compensation, he revealed.

Going ahead in the next financial year, NHAI has to acquire land for the sixth and seventh phase of the National Highways Development Programme. The authority plans to construct 1,000 km of expressways in the sixth phase and 700 km of ring roads and bypasses in the seventh phase.

The official said, “Land acquisition will be expensive because expressways will be greenfield projects in the sixth while bypasses and ring roads will be acquired around cities in the seventh.”

Even as NHAI has acquired record land of 9,000 hectares in the current financial year, it could not meet its target of awarding 7,800 km of road projects during the period. This was due to a delay in approvals from the Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee.

NHAI, which awarded over 3,100 km of road projects in the first four months of 2011-12, was expecting to cross the 9,000-km mark by the end of this year. But, it ended by awarding 6,200 km of road projects — an increase from 4,500 km of road projects awarded in the last financial year.

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