BENGALURU: The Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway project of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), a nearly Rs 8,000-crore initiative to connect the twin cities within 90 minutes, recently got the much-awaited clearance from the forest department to acquire its land.
However, it is facing many smaller hurdles in the form of private landowners refusing to part with their small parcels of land. Despite the foundation stone being laid in March 2018, actual construction work has made very poor progress.
The access controlled expressway will be designed such that vehicles can zoom through at 100km/hr. The present four-lane highway will be converted into a six-lane expressway, with paved shoulders on either side for two-wheelers and autorickshaws. Four service lanes will also be provided.
Officials told The New Indian Express that acquiring land from individuals was proving to be a tedious affair. A senior official said, “Some individuals have encroached on government land and built their houses long ago, and are demanding alternative land to rebuild their homes. We are willing to provide them compensation for the buildings we demolish, but they are not eligible for any land as it is not their property.”
Another section is keen on getting higher compensation, while a few are happy with the compensation paid but are seeking more time to vacate their properties.An official said, “Sometimes, locals gang up when we ask them to vacate, while some bring in political pressure to stay put. However, we are doing our best to obtain the land.”
Jagmohan Sharma, nodal officer for forest land clearance in Karnataka, said that in-principle clearance had been given by the forest department a fortnight ago for 20.85 hectares between Hejjala, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, and Nidaghatta in Maddur taluk of Mandya district.
On the reasons for the delay, Sharma said, “We need to follow a detailed process before forest land is diverted for other purposes. Thorough field scrutiny needs to be done,” he said.An NHAI official said, “Though clearance was given, cutting of trees by the forest department was going on at a slow pace.”
Bhopal-based Dilip Buildcon was given the contract in April 2018. “Land issues prevented actual construction work from taking place rapidly,” he added. The project is based on the Hybrid Annuity Model, where the Centre will bear 40% of the cost and the contractor 60%, apart from construction cost. NHAI will repay the contractor’s investment in a few instalments and collect toll.
Another NHAI official expressed confidence that solid civil works on Phase-I will begin in a month, after thrashing out all land issues.
The 117-km expressway will have two packages: a 56-km Bengaluru-Nidaghatta section (Phase-I) and a 61-km Nidaghatta-Mysuru section (Phase-II). A total of 725 acres of land is required to implement it, and NHAI has to mandatorily acquire 80% of land before work begins.