Land owners affected by highway projects to get benefit

From ET Realty

NEW DELHI: In yet another farmer friendly decision, government will now pay higher compensation as per the new land acquisition law to property owners, who have not yet accepted payments even if the process of acquisition commenced under the old law for building and widening of national highways. All property owners affected under each notification to acquire land will get this benefit, if the majority of them had not accepted the compensation till now.

Road transport and highways ministry is issuing the direction to all its agencies including NHAI and NHIIDCL to follow this norm. The decision was taken following the solicitor general’s opinion on this issue, which the ministry received last week. Sources in NHAI said this will increase the pay out of the highway authority by nearly Rs 1,500 crore.

The land acquisition law of 2013 has become applicable for NH projects only from January 2015 and there has been a growing number of litigations by affected land owners, who are seeking higher compensation. Ministry sources said though the decision will come at a higher cost to the exchequer, but it will clear the road for some of the projects that are held up due to litigations and protests by farmers.

NHAI chairman Raghav Chandra said, “We had recommended that government should facilitate a quick decision so that reasonable solution can be reached for quick implementation of projects.” Sources said while there was division of opinions within the ministry, highways minister Nitin Gadkari had favoured for higher compensation to bring in parity among all affected farmers.

Section 24 of the land acquisition law makes land owners eligible for higher compensation, where land proceedings have been initiated as per the earlier provisions but majority of them have not received compensation or NHAI has not taken possession of the land. But there was no clarity whether this section is applicable for acquisition of land for NH projects.

TOI had first reported on December 11 how the number of litigations by farmers and other land owners had increased since the new land acquisition law became applicable for highway projects.

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