NHAI seeks legal view to bypass land acquisition bumps

With enhanced compensation applicable for national highways from January 2015, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is facing hurdles in land acquisition in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar.

Land owners are demanding higher compensation under a new law enacted in 2013, although land acquisition for highway stretches was started last year according to an older law. The NHAI is seeking legal opinion on compensation.

"Suppose land acquisition for a stretch of highway was initiated last year under the earlier provision, the compensation is offered according to the old mechanism. But if acquisition for another stretch was initiated this year, the compensation offered is in accordance with the new law," an NHAI official explained.

"There are several stretches where compensation has been paid according to the earlier law. Now, when compensation is paid for the remaining portion according to the new law, land owners paid earlier are seeking more. This is resulting in litigation and delaying projects," he pointed out.

"Further, Section 24 of the land acquisition law makes land owners eligible for higher compensation when proceedings have been initiated under the earlier provisions but the majority of them have not received compensation. We are seeking legal opinion on this as well," the official said.

The NHAI is set to acquire more land than it has in either of the two previous financial years, over which time the average cost of land rose from Rs 90 lakh a hectare in 2013-14 to Rs 1.35 crore a hectare in 2014-15.

LAND PANGS
  • NHAI is facing hurdles in land acquisition in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar
  • Landowners are demanding higher compensation under a new law enacted in 2013, although land acquisition for highway stretches was started last year according to an older law
  • NHAI is seeking legal opinion on compensation; it has strengthened its land acquisition division and has assigned teams to nudge state governments to deliver land faster
  • NHAI is set to acquire more land than it has in either of the two previous financial years, over which time the average cost of land rose from Rs 90 lakh a hectare in 2013-14 to Rs 1.35 crore a hectare in 2014-15

Till November, the NHAI had acquired over 6,000 hectares and it plans to acquire 10,000 hectares in the current financial year, up from 6,733 hectares in 2014-15.

The acquisition cost for land notified after January 2015 will climb as compensation for national highways will have to be paid in line with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

The NHAI has strengthened its land acquisition division and has assigned teams to nudge state governments to deliver land faster. Acquiring land for highways is the state governments' responsibility.

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