UP govt to speed up land acquisition for Rs 100-bn Bundelkhand Expressway

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
Amid the high pitch Ram temple voices emanating from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dispensation in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government is gearing up to expedite land acquisition for the proposed Bundelkhand Expressway.

The 293-km Expressway will be developed in the arid and backward Bundelkhand zone spanning Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Auraiya and Etawah districts. 
The project is estimated to cost nearly Rs 100 billion. The Adityanath government has made a budgetary provision of Rs 6.50 billion in the annual budget for the mega infrastructure project, which is aimed at boosting the socioeconomic development in the laggard region.

Bundelkhand Expressway was actually proposed during Akhilesh Yadav's regime, however, after coming to power, Adityanath also espoused the project, thus maintaining the much-required continuity in industrial and infrastructure development roadmap.

Another project, Purvanchal Expressway, which was also proposed during the Akhilesh Yadav's rule, has already seen the light of the day and its foundation was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 14. UP Expressways and Industrial Development Authority (UPEDA) is the nodal agency for the two projects.

To speed up the two mega Expressway projects, UP chief secretary Anup Chandra Pandey, chaired the project management group (PMG) meeting today and directed the respective district magistrates to accelerate land acquisition and removing irritants coming in the way, such as overhead electricity cables, buildings etc.

Meanwhile, traffic survey pertaining to the proposed Bundelkhand Expressway is likely to be completed by November 15, so that the bidding process could be initiated soon thereafter. Land for the project would be made available to the selected concessionaire under public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

Earlier, the Adityanath government had eased some norms to speed up projects in the backdrop of land acquisition hurdles stalling about 350 infrastructure and industrial development projects in UP. 

Under the new norms, the state had rescinded the stipulation of paying 4 times the prevailing market value/circle rate, for acquiring ‘gram sabha’ land for development projects, under the existing land acquisition norms enforced in 2015.

The UP cabinet had decided to relax the provision for ‘gram sabha’ land owned by the state government and instead allowed for paying compensation as per the prevailing circle/market rates.

However, the norms stood unchanged for private land. In March 2015, the Samajwadi Party government had approved a policy for direct negotiation between the seller and buyer for land acquisition.

Meanwhile, the state is pushing for another mega project, Bundelkhand Defence Corridor, which is estimated to attract almost Rs 200 billion in initial investments. 

The state government has identified more than 5,000 hectares of land across Aligarh, Agra, Jhansi, Kanpur, Lucknow and Chitrakoot comprising the 6 nodes of the proposed Defence Corridor, aimed at bolstering UP among the top defence manufacturing states in India.

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