3 months on, farmers keep work on Ludhiana-Ropar highway stalled : The Tribune India

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3 months on, farmers keep work on Ludhiana-Ropar highway stalled

Seek more money, 15% work done, 26% land still wanted for Package-1 of Greenfield project

3 months on, farmers keep work on Ludhiana-Ropar highway stalled

Work on the Ludhiana-Ropar highway remains stalled on Friday.



Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, March 1

Up in arms against what they allege as “unfair compensation” for their lands under acquisition for a mega project, a bunch of farmers continue to stall the ongoing construction work on the upcoming Ludhiana-Ropar highway for the past over three months, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has said.

It was in November last when a handful of farmers had stalled the ongoing work to construct the highway and all efforts being made by the district administration and the officials concerned have so far failed to resume the work on the another much-delayed highway project.

While the protesters were up in arms against what they allege as “unfair compensation” for their lands under acquisition for the project, the NHAI claims that the farmers have been paid the “adequate amount” as per the laid down norms for acquiring their lands.

With the farmers remaining adamant on not allowing the construction work until and unless they are paid enhanced compensation for their acquired lands for the Central project, the NHAI was left with no other option but to leave the work mid-way.

Though almost 15 per cent construction of the 37.7-km stretch under Package-1 of the 116-km-long Greenfield project, including a 19.5-km spur from Pipalmajra to Kharar with Ludhiana bypass, being built at the cost of Rs 2,857.14 crore has already been achieved within the limits of Ludhiana district, the physical possession of land for the remaining 26 per cent stretch is still awaited, officials have revealed.

Of the total 116-km project, land rates to acquire 50-km stretch have been put under arbitration to review and revise the acquisition award.

The development assumes significance as the stiff resistance by the landowners to part away with their lands coming under the entire Ludhiana-Ropar expressway has been delaying the acquisition proceedings for the major infrastructure development project, which was appointed in December 2022 with completion deadline of December 2024.

Rajya Sabha MP from Ludhiana Sanjeev Arora told The Tribune here on Friday that the work on Package-1 of the four to six-lane National Highway-205K from junction with NE-5 village near to Manewal in Ludhiana to junction with the NH-205 near Bheora village in Ropar, including spur to Kharar with Ludhiana bypass, had been taken up on a priority basis after sufficient land was made available for the project. “As of date, the project has achieved 14.84 per cent physical and financial progress,” he said.

However, a group of farmers, whose lands had come under the project, have forced the construction firm to stop the work at two separate stretches — 0-8.3-km and 15-30.2-km — for seeking higher compensation.

Arora, who reviewed the progress of the project here recently, said the agitating farmers were being pacified and assured fair compensation for their lands to avoid any further delay in the construction of the highway. He expected an early resumption of the work on the project.

The NHAI officials briefed the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member in the Upper House of Parliament from Punjab that the physical possession of 67.12 hectares, which accounted for 25.81 per cent, of the total 260 hectares of land required for the project, was still awaited even almost a year after the project took off in December last.

They said the deposit and payment of compensation for 55.2 hectares, determination of compensation for 11.92 hectares and final notification under Section 3D of the National Highways Act, 1956, was yet to be issued for 0.81 hectares of land required for the project.

“Of the total 116-km expressway, construction work is in progress over a 66-km stretch while the physical possession of land to build the remaining 50-km stretch is still pending,” Arora was told.

The NHAI officials said the rates fixed for the land acquisition were being reviewed by the Arbitrator, who is Divisional Commissioner. “After the review, the case will be put up before the NHAI Chairman, who will take a final call on the matter,” he said.

With Rs 951-crore civil cost and Rs 410-crore land acquisition cost, the total capital cost for Package-1, for which the work was awarded in September 2021, and began in December 2022, was Rs 1,368.91 crore for which 260 hectares of land was required. The Package-2, comprising 47.24-km stretch, involved a civil cost of Rs 1,035 crore and land acquisition amount of Rs 461.71 crore, taking the total capital cost to Rs 1,488.23 crore. However, the possession of land had been delayed under this package as well, for which the work had been awarded in December 2021.

4-6 lanes access-controlled highway approved

The NHAI had approved 4-6 lanes access-controlled highway with a route alignment connecting Manewal village in Ludhiana on the upcoming Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway with Bheora village near Ropar for the construction of the Greenfield expressway, which includes a 19.5-km spur from Pipalmajra to Kharar with Ludhiana bypass, and was being developed under the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-1.

The expressway was being built in three parts under the hybrid annuity model (HAM) mode, and will connect Ludhiana, Ropar and Mohali districts.

Under the HAM mode, 40 per cent the project cost was provided by the government as construction support during the construction period and the balance 60 per cent was paid as annuity payments over the operations period along with interest thereon to the concessionaire.

While three railway overbridges to be built under the project had also been approved by the Northern Railway, the plan and profile of the project had been submitted and the alignment had been approved.

Land not available

The non-availability of partial land required for the project and protest by a bunch of farmers were causing hurdles in the ongoing construction work. Even as the NHAI had awarded the work and construction agencies had begun the work with the minimum possible land availability, repeated interventions at the level of the Chief Secretary had not been able to complete the land acquisition proceedings and pacify the protesters so far.

“Every time we approach the district and state authorities, they assure us that they will make the land available soon but the wait continues,” a senior NHAI officer quipped.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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