KANPUR / NEW DELHI: The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has taken a strong view of the delay in the release of compensation to the land owners, whose land has been acquired for the construction of the outer Kanpur Ring Road, the first phase of which is to be completed before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari had promised that the first phase of the road will be completed before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls but its construction has still not been started and is set for further delay as compensation awarded to the owners has still not been released due to alleged lack of coordination between the local National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and Kanpur district officials. Sources said that Union Minister of state for road transport and highways General (Retd) VK Singh has expressed strong objection to the unwarranted delay in the release of the compensation even though it had been finalised by the district and the NHAI officials in their joint meeting on May 4.
While the minister, sources said, is contemplating strong action against NHAI officials, he has spoken to state administration top brass to take action against officials responsible for the inordinate delay. Sources said that the minister, after approached by one of the landowners, has instructed senior functionaries at MoRTH to take stringent action against the NHAI officials, who have been accused of delaying the fund release even as it had been sanctioned by Vijeta Singh, ADM (land acquisition), Kanpur.
Following the May 4 meeting at the Kanpur Collectorate, Vijeta Singh finalised the quantum of compensation of Rs 331 crore to 77 landowners as per the government circle rates. She sent the award sheet to NHAI project director Prashant Dubey seeking his submission on May 15. However, the NHAI has still not reverted, leading to the current deadlock. The MoRTH officials, say sources, have taken notice of this and are contemplating action in this regard.
When contacted, Kanpur FN Vishak G Iyer said: “There are four packages of NHAI with regard to Kanpur’s Outer Ring road project. So far, we have awarded compensation in 13 gram panchayats. An amount of 128 crore is to be awarded. Out of which 52 crore have been disbursed, remaining would be awarded latest by July this year.”
Interestingly, a day after Vijeta Singh finalised the quantum of the compensation package and sent it to the NHAI project Director, Lucknow, Prashant Dubey, she was transferred.
While no one from the NHAI was willing to speak on record, its senior official, said on the condition of anonymity: “There is no delay as far as disbursement of compensation with regard to Kanpur’s Outer Ring Road project. Yes it takes some time because every case has to be understood deeply and then expedited. Whatever time it takes is in the land conversion process.Otherwise the land acquisition process is the simplest and smoothest in our country.”
Meanwhile, one of the aggrieved land-owners told TOI: “We have already approached the transport ministry and soon a delegation will call on Chief Minister Yogi Aditynanath to look into the matter and see that the compensation is released and also action is taken against officials responsible for the delay.”
The construction of the 32.2-km outer Kanpur ring road from Mandhana to Sachendi, which will connect the city with the Lucknow road, had to be started from March this year. The acquisition of 32.56 hectares of the land, whose compensation is yet to be paid, had been completed on December 9, 2022, and the same was published in the gazette as well.
The delay in the release of the compensation is also causing a huge loss to the government as a penalty at the rate of of 12% per annum will be paid additionally to the landowners.
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