The concurrence of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) is awaited to kickstart land acquisition process for the long overdue Kundannoor-Angamaly NH Bypass.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had approved the alignment of the 44-km stretch in January and it was expected that the project would be commissioned in early 2027. Motorists and people whose land would be acquired for the project were sceptical of the deadline, considering the procedural wrangles.
The corridor that was mooted in 2016 is critical to decongest the Edappally-Aroor NH 66 Bypass which is used daily by one lakh passenger car units, and the congested Edappally-Angamaly NH 544 stretch. In the absence of alternative corridors, traffic snarls are acute, especially at the ill-planned Edappally Junction where the two corridors meet.
Informed sources said the concurrence of MoRTH was needed in order to upload the final 3(A) notification issued under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013. A draft notification had been readied earlier this year. The delay on account of this has been attributed to a policy decision that the State government ought to take on exempting the project and the Kollam-Shengottai highway development project from State GST. The State had earlier cited that it was not in a position to pool in with 25% of the project’s land acquisition cost.
Once the 3(A) notification is published, public hearing will be held under Section 3(C) of the Act as part of the land acquisition process. This will be followed by survey of individual plots of land that are needed for the highway project, and their demarcation. While these can be done in a couple of months, it will take approximately six months to consolidate survey results and to publish them, as per Section 3(D) of the Act. This is because approximately 287 hectares of land, including paddy fields, spread over 44-km distance has to be acquired.
Soon after, landowners will have to produce documents pertaining to the land for vetting, following which their land will be valued based on the average of the top three values for which plots were sold during the past three years.
The valuation of buildings by agencies approved by the NHAI and its vetting by the Public Works department (Buildings wing) will follow suit. The Forest department has to assess the value of trees that will have to be axed as part of the project, while the Agriculture department will assess the value of agriculture crops. The entire process after the publishing of 3(A) notification will take up to a year, it is learnt.
Meanwhile, the demand is rife that the State government constitute two more land acquisition teams under special tahsildars to speed up the process.