Acquiring land in states such as Goa, West Bengal and Kerala was a concern, a senior National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) official admitted on Monday. “There are a lot of houses around the area in which the highway was supposed to be built in Goa. So, the issue is not political, but local,” said Jagdip Singh, member (finance), NHAI. Recently, NHAI had to cancel awarding a four-laning project to IRB Infrastructure along the Panaji highway.
The nodal agency for awarding road projects could not acquire land for the project. It had cancelled a project in Kerala last year. “These are densely populated areas. But acquiring land is not such a problem in states like Maharashtra and Goa,” said Singh.
Typically, when NHAI awards a project, it has possesses around 80 per cent of the land and acquires the rest within six months — the time taken for the project's financial closure.
NHAI, however, is stepping up work on its expressway projects. It plans to bid for at least four-five projects to six-lane expressways and would start acquiring land for them next year. These are greenfield projects, in which the land has to be acquired.
The authority also plans to bid for engineering, procurement and construction model road projects next year. “We would seek bids for such projects of around 4,000-5,000 kilometres in phase IV of the National Highways Development Programme. The cost of all these projects would be around Rs 12,000-15,000 crore,” said Singh.