The government of Tamil Nadu has evoked special powers conferred by the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to deny affected property owners the opportunity to raise objections towards land acquisition for Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL). These measures have been adopted in view of the urgency of the case, according to the government.

Last week, notices were issued to owners of eight properties on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road or the Inner Ring Road, where the first phase of the construction of Metro Rail stations is underway, for compulsory acquisition.

The notices make it clear that Section 5A of the Act that empowers land-owners to raise objections “shall not apply in this case.”

Parallel efforts by the CMRL to acquire land by negotiating with property owners or by offering Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) instead of cash compensation have not made much headway.

About a year ago, the CMRL identified properties affected by the proposed alignment and collected ownership details and documents from the owners. These details were given to a real estate consultancy firm to arrive at a compensation value.

Following this, negotiations were held with the owners to arrive at a mutually agreeable compensation amount, but without much success.

Under the TDR concept, a development right certificate is issued to a land-owner instead of cash when government acquires private land. This right can be availed of by the owner in some other property in another area in the form of enhanced Floor Space Index or transferred to anybody else for consideration.

Of the many property owners affected by Chennai Metro Rail, only four opted to avail of TDR and submitted applications a few months ago to the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). Of the four, only one has reached the final stages of receiving TDR. CMDA sources say a separate section has been constituted for the purpose of issuing TDR and the system to keep track of certificates issued is ready.

When contacted, CMRL officials said issuing land acquisition notice was one of the three methods adopted to obtain the required land. If negotiations failed, and there was endless delay in the processing of TDR, the notices would be pursued and land acquired. Tenders to construct metro stations had been issued and the work was progressing at a fast pace to meet the deadline, they added.