For the project, proceedings of land acquisition have been initiated by this office and survey number verification by patwaris falling in the alignment is currently under process.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), to avoid land fraud on the lines of the 2016 Hoshiarpur land ‘scam’, has issued letters to the district authorities to stay change in land use, sale deeds, NOCs, registries of land till DPRs are prepared for NHAI projects. One of the letters issued to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Hoshiarpur revealed that the highway authority is planning the 4-laning of an existing Phagwara-Hoshiarpur 2-lane highway (NH-3448), including bypass of Phagwara and Hoshiarpur. For the project, proceedings of land acquisition have been initiated by this office and survey number verification by patwaris falling in the alignment is currently under process, according to an IE report.
The letter issued to DC further stated that the alignment of the subject project stretch is easily accessible now and possibility of leaking out of sensitive information cannot be ruled out. Thus, according to the report, there are high chances of land conversion or sale of land falling in the alignment. Earlier, these instances have been reported in Punjab too, resulting in dropping the proposal of highway development or extra cost burden to the state as well as arbitration cases or land disputes, the letter stated. To avoid these cases, authorities of NHAI sought special attention from revenue authorities.
However, the NHAI letter, to be extra cautious, further urged for intervention to pass a stay order against any NOC’s issuance for change in land use or sale deed or registries of land for the villages as per the list being sent to this office for Hoshiarpur tehsil of the district of Hoshiarpur till 31 August 2021, or completion of proceedings of 3 A notification under National Highway Act 1956. According to NHAI officials, such methods are followed by them for every project and for the Jalandhar-Katra Highway, a similar process was adopted.
The highway authority officials said that they were supposed to build the Jalandhar bypass after the Hoshiarpur land scam of 2016 and the NHAI was to acquire land of 392 acres in 26 Jalandhar villages for that. The 29.5 kilometre long Jalandhar bypass was to link NH-71 with NH-70 from Chuharwali village to Phagwara road via Talhan village, but in the year 2019, NHAI was forced to shelve that project because it had found various irregularities similar to Hoshiarpur land scam in the Jalandhar project where in some villages, land deals were executed by a land mafia much before the highway authority could acquire same area for constructing the bypass.
The land mafia had become quite active in those villages and bought land from innocent farmers and got them converted into the commercial properties by getting CLU to fetch four-five times more compensation for commercial property than agricultural property from NHAI in the land acquisition process, the report said.