The development model followed by the Centre in other parts of the country should be adopted in Kerala as well, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.
Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of 15 national highways projects here on Thursday, Mr. Vijayan said Kerala had agreed to shoulder 25% of the cost of land acquisition for National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) projects after the Centre insisted that the State should bear a portion of the land cost considering the high land value in Kerala.
National highway development was at a standstill in the State when the Left government came to power in 2016. Taking note of the grave situation, the State government had then agreed to shoulder 25% of the land cost and paid a share of ₹5,580 crore for projects for which the foundation stone was laid on Thursday and agreed to provide another tranche of ₹1,398 crore.
“Kerala is a city-like State where there is no major difference in the cost of land in urban and rural areas. We have informed the Centre that the practice being followed by the NHAI in other parts of the country should be followed in Kerala as well. The 25% of the cost of land the State paid was the compensation for the unpardonable delay in land acquisition. But this cannot be continued and we requested the Centre to apply the same rule for development works everywhere in the country,” he said. “This is not an adamant stand taken by the State, but it looks hopefully for how the issue could be sorted out mutually,” he added.
He explained the stance of the State in the presence of Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, who earlier in Parliament stated that Kerala had gone back on its promise of shouldering 25% cost of land acquisition.
While expressing the difficulty to bear the entire expense of land acquisition, Mr. Gadkari stated that the cost of land acquisition per kilometre in Kerala was about ₹100 crore. However, during the inaugural function here, Mr. Gadkari said he understood the problem faced by Kerala and they (State and Centre) would sit together and resolve the issue.
The Chief Minister also took a dig at Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan at the function. Mr. Muraleedharan, during his opening remarks, said Kerala had agreed to bear 25% of the cost of land like many other States. “To my understanding, no other State in the country had borne a part of land acquisition cost like Kerala shouldered,” said Mr. Vijayan.