Ludhiana, September 20
Even as almost 43 per cent land is still wanted, the work to construct the upcoming Ludhiana-Ropar expressway has achieved 12 per cent completion, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has confirmed.
While the 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 been underway within the limits of Ludhiana district, the physical possession of land for the remaining 8-km stretch is still awaited, officials have said.
Of the total 116-km project, the 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 farmers to part away with their land coming under the entire Ludhiana-Ropar expressway was delaying the acquisition proceedings for the major infrastructure development project.
Rajya Sabha MP Sanjeev Arora, who reviewed the progress of the project here recently, told The Tribune on Wednesday that the work on Package 1 of the four to six-lane the National Highway-205K from junction with the NE-5 village near to Manewal in Ludhiana to junction with NH-205 near Bheora village in Ropar, including spur to Kharar with the Ludhiana bypass, had been expedited after sufficient land was made available for the project.
Route: To start from Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway (NE-5) near Manewal village in Ludhiana and terminate on NH-205 at Ropar near Bheora village. Besides, a spur from Pipalmajra to Kharar will connect Ludhiana bypass
“As of date, the project has achieved 12 per cent physical and financial progress,” he said.
He said possession of 29.7-km of the total 37.7-km land required for the Package-1 had been taken while the process to complete acquisition proceedings for the remaining 8-km stretch under Package-1 was still on.
“Of the total 116-km expressway, the construction work is in progress over a 66-km stretch while the physical possession of the land to build the remaining 50-km stretch is still pending,” Arora was told.
The NHAI project director said the rates fixed for the land acquisition were being reviewed by the Arbitrator, who is the 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 revealed.
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, was Rs 1,368.91 crore for which 260 hectares of land was required. Of the total Rs 294.12 crore awarded for the land acquisition so far, Rs 203.47 crore had been deposited and Rs 97.55 crore, which accounts for 33.17 per cent of the total award money, had been disbursed to the landowners.
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.
For the total 337.27 hectares of land under acquisition for Package 2, a sum of Rs 352.73 crore had been awarded, of which Rs 150 crore had already been deposited and Rs 86.24 crore had been disbursed to the farmers, which accounts for 24.45 per cent of the total award money.
The NHAI had approved 4-6 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 of the project cost was provided by the government as construction support during the construction period and the balance 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 land required for the project was 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 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 said.
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