Irked at slow execution of highway projects in Uttar Pradesh, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has asked officials to work on ‘war-footing’ to expedite projects besides undertaking periodic meetings with the state officials to address land acquisition issues.
Expressing displeasure over tardy progress in projects at a meeting to review the status of highways in Uttar Pradesh, Gadkari asked officials to ensure that Rs 4,500 crore provided by Centre for land acquisition be disbursed at the earliest to roll out stuck projects.
UP accounts for 11,074 km of National Highways including 60 newly declared stretches but a large number of projects including that for upgradation are stuck on account of delays in land acquisition, utility shifting and forest and environment clearances, among other issues.
“I have asked officials to expedite projects in UP on war-footing. There are many projects where land acquisition has not been done properly. Forest environment clearance, utility shifting problems are there. Project directors and regional officers have been asked to follow up each project and own responsibility,” Gadkari told PTI after the review meeting.
The Ministry officials have been instructed to hold periodic meetings with UP officials to address the land acquisition and other issues, he said.
“Secretary, Highways, Sanjay Mitra; NHAI Chief Raghav Chandra and Joint Secretary, Highways Leena Nandan have been asked to hold meetings with UP Chief Secretary to expedite projects. Our Rs 4,500 crore has been deposited with UP collectors office for land acquisition. These need to be expedited,” the Minister said.
Besides, detailed project reports for another 2,519 km have been submitted and “we intend to start work on these very soon,” he added.
During the review, 21 of the 52 under implementation projects were identified as “focus” projects.
As far as land acquisition was concerned, it was felt that there is a need for expediting disbursement of compensation.
As per officials, apart from land acquisition, another major issue pertained to forest and utility shifting which was impacting projects totalling 400 km.
Besides, delays in shifting of utilities impacted many projects that include Delhi-Meerut Expressway package 11 and 111, six-lane Greenfield Delhi-Meerut Expressway project and Varanasi-Sultanpur section packages.
Projects related to Ram Gaman Marg, Buddhist Circuit, Sethu Bharatam also came up during the review.