KARNATAKA

Stamp duty to have an impact on expressway project

Bangalore Dec. 4. The Rs. 2,000-crore Bangalore-Mysore Expressway project may face problems because of the 10 per cent stamp duty introduced recently by the State Government. The duty becomes applicable on the funds raised on a mortgage basis by the promoters, Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE), which signed the agreement for the project almost eight years ago.

The promoters are said to be persuading the Government to waive the stamp duty because of its impact on the cost of the expressway project. The Government had earlier waived stamp duty related to the land acquired for the project.

Work on the four-lane stretch between Bangalore and Maddur is scheduled to be formally launched by the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, on December 15. The project is otherwise ready for launch, and all clearances, including those from the Union Environment Ministry, have been obtained. The NICE is ready for the financial closure of the second phase of the project. Financial arrangement for the first phase was concluded a year ago with the ICICI as the lead funding agency.

The 161-km. expressway, which includes a link road from the outskirts of Bangalore, will have tollbooths for motorists using it. This is considered reasonable as travel time from the city to Mysore is expected to be reduced to 90 minutes from about three hours. The expressway project has provision for five integrated townships along the route, spread over 20,000 acres.

Meanwhile, the Public Works Minister, N. Dharam Singh, has said that widening of the Bangalore-Maddur stretch will be taken up now as there is no land acquisition problem. An official notification on the launch of the project will be issued soon, he has said.

The expressway project ran into hurdles earlier with environmentalists protesting against the felling of a large number of trees. The Government and the promoters explained that trees would be planned along the widened road.

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