Agra ring road plan runs into land hurdle

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SummaryLand acquisition hurdles have claimed yet another road project in Uttar Pradesh.

Land acquisition hurdles have claimed yet another road project in Uttar Pradesh. The R1100-crore Agra Inner Ring Road project, which was given to Jaypee Infratech three years ago, has been shelved by the Akhilesh Yadav government because the land-for-development model for the plan was not working out.

In a meeting chaired by the UP CM on Wednesday, it was decided in principle that the concessionaire agreement between the Agra Development Authority (ADA) — the nodal agency of the housing department — and Jaypee would be cancelled and a fresh process would be initiated for the construction of the 30-km-long road on competitive bidding.

“It has been decided that after cancelling the earlier agreement, a fresh bidding for the road project would be initiated on a PPP mode and we would soon invite developers to submit their bids for the same,” Infrastructure and Industrial Development Commissioner Anil Kumar Gupta said.

“The land-for-development model will not work and hence we would be looking at other options such as annuity and toll-based. An ADA team will visit Jaipur and study the Jaipur ring road project and submit their report to a high powered committee within the next fortnight after which the committee will finalise the project,” Gupta added.

The ring road, which would link Agra and National Highways – NH2 and NH3, will not be elevated as planned earlier.

Speaking to FE on condition of anonymity, an official of the housing department said the project, which has been on hold for almost two years, got caught in a land imbroglio.

“The ADA was not able to acquire the land and hand it over to the concessionaire because of which the project got lost in the woods. Apart from the 265-hectare land that was needed for the road, another 1278 hectare was to be acquired and handed over to the concessionaire for their real estate project development,” said the official.

The main issue was of compensation. The affected farmers had been demanding a bigger package for their lands. The farmers agitation along the Yamuna Expressway had led to the compensation package being increased from R20 lakh a hectare in 2009 to R71 lakh a hectare in 2011.

At this rate, approximately R188 crore is to be paid for the ROW land and another R907 crore will be needed for land parcels payments.

“With compensation for land being pegged at such a high cost, it would not be viable for any developer to opt for a land-for-development model anyway. The government has to look for other options including annuity and toll-based,” said another official.

When asked how wise it would be to toll traffic on a city's ring road, the official said the plan's effectiveness can can be tested only when it is floated. “The response from developers will be the only test that can convincingly state whether it would be viable or not,” he added.

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