Kerala tops in shouldering NH land acquisition cost

State forced to pay the largest share of ₹5,580 crore as land acquisition cost in the past five years. Kerala is followed by Haryana with ₹3,114 crore and Uttar Pradesh with ₹2,301 crore

December 20, 2023 08:48 pm | Updated 09:32 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The precarious financial situation and the new norm mandating the State to bear 25% of the land acquisition cost for national highway development works have proved costly with the State being forced to pay the largest share of ₹5,580 crore in the country in the past five years.

According to documents tabled by the Ministry for Road Transport and Highways in Parliament, Kerala is followed by Haryana with ₹3,114 crore and Uttar Pradesh with ₹2,301 crore.

On the other hand, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has spent the highest share of ₹27,568 crore on land acquisition and related activities in Maharashtra in the past five years, followed by ₹23,134 crore in Uttar Pradesh, and ₹22,119 crore in Kerala.

Generally, the entire cost of execution of national highway projects is borne by the Centre. In some cases, State governments share part of some cost components of the projects. Since the land cost is relatively high in Kerala , the State was told to bear a State share of 25% of the land acquisition costs. Interestingly, States such as Maharashtra and Gujarat have not paid the State share of land acquisition cost for national highway works in the last five years.

However, the Dholera Special Investment Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) has provided 685.97 ha free of cost in Gujarat for the Ahmedabad-Dholera Greenfield Alignment (NH-751) project.

In the past five years, around 160 km of national highway has been constructed by the NHAI in Kerala till July 2023. Further, the State has agreed to bear 25% of the land cost in the three upcoming greenfield projects, including four-laning of the Palakkad-Kozhikode national highway and the Thiruvananthapuram-Kottarakara- Kottayam–Angamaly MC Road, which will come to ₹4,440 crore.

Though the State has submitted a proposal for waiver of the 25% share for land acquisition for two projects of the NHAI – Ernakulam bypass and Kollam-Shenkottai stretch — and exemption from sharing the land acquisition cost of the Outer Ring Road project in Thiruvananthapuram by listing the project under the Bharatmala Pariyojana, the Centre is yet to take a final call on the matter.

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