Highway project hits road block over land acquisition

Work on three-km stretch halted at Uppidamangalam

Problems in land acquisition, especially on fixing compensation, is halting the progress of the road development project in the Tiruchi-Karur section of NH 67 in Karur district.

The problem is acute in the Uppidamangalam area where there has been practically no work for the past several months in a three kilometre stretch, with the Revenue Department officials fixing a price that is seen as out of sync with reality by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

Ever since the project was taken up, the development of Tiruchi-Karur section NH 67 has been suffering jolts. Then, in the past six to seven months works have picked up immensely giving a semblance of respectability to the project that is estimated to cost Rs.516 crore.

Several irritants were cleared and bottlenecks removed due to concerted efforts on the part of the NHAI, the concessionaire Reliance Infra and the execution contractors.

But one major bottleneck with regard to land acquisition remained in the Uppidamangalam stretch in Karur district.The crux of the problem there was simple - the compensation fixed for dry land sought to be acquired was exorbitant.

Initially, the Revenue Department officials arrived at a compensation of Rs. 24 lakh per acre for the dry lands in the arc, south west of Puliyur to east of Sukkaliyur that vastly includes Uppidamangalam.

Then after some reasoning ,it was reduced to Rs. 21 lakh per acre. It was believed that the compensation has been fixed leading to speculations.

However, subsequently the NHAI remonstrated the decision claiming that the compensation rate was arrived at by erroneously premising on mala fide land deal transactions that militated against fair compensation vitiating the guidelines for land acquisition.

The cost of acquiring the 34 acres in the area would run to Rs.10 crore and that was not a healthy sign nationwide, NHAI sources say.NHAI officials pointed out that the compensation for areas were relatively acceptable with the authorities approximately fixing Rs. 2.5 lakh per acre in Thirukkampuliyur; Rs. 3 lakh per acre in Kallappalli; Rs. 1.4 lakh an acre in Balarajapuram (all in Karur district) and Rs. 3.2 lakh in Pirattiyur West; Rs. 1.6 lakh in Panjappur; Rs. 2.5 lakh in Mullikarumbur and Rs. 2 lakh in Kuzhumani (all in Tiruchi district).

They point out that only in the thickly populated Pettaivaithalai town area did the authorities fix Rs. 21lakh per acre and that amount could never be compared to the dry and sparsely populated upland in Uppidamangalam area in Karur district.

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