Road projects: Govt to credit money to land owner's account

The road ministry at the centre has announced an online initiative to speed up road projects by reducing the time taken for acquisition of land. Under this, the central government will directly deposit the amount due to each land owner whose land is being acquired for such projects in the owner’s account.

The direct transfer of funds will slash time taken for acquiring land and enable crediting of funds directly to the account of the person, who owns the land on which a road is being built.
Termed Bhoomi Rashi portal, it will make the required land acquisition notification process online. The portal has also been linked with the public finance management system, which will enable flow of funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to the land owner’s account.
“About 1,000 notifications were issued last year for acquiring land. This year, with the use of Bhoomi Rashi portal, 900 notifications have been issued since from 1 April,” Yudhvir Singh Malik, secretary,  in the ministry of road transport and highways, said.
As part of the land acquisition strategy, the ministry has also decided that it will acquire land only on one side of the road for widening as it lowers 50 per cent of tree-felling and utility clearance requirements, Malik said.
The process will both lower the cost of acquiring land and lower the amount of funds to be disbursed to the states’ account while also lowering the administrative charges.
“Some states used to charge 20 per cent as administrative charges, while some others did not charge at all. For acquiring land, now the centre has decided to provide 2.5 per cent of amount disbursed as administrative charge,” Nitin Gadkari, minister of road transport and highways, said while speaking at a conference.
It was observed several times that funds required for land acquisition lie idle with the competent authority of states for long time, while for some states where the funds have to be disbursed necessary funds are hard to find, Malik explained.
Henceforth, he said, there will be a common account for all states, from where funds can be disbursed to those areas where land acquisition is progressing.
“When the notification about possession of land (notification 3D) will be put online, the corresponding legacy data (3A notification), which may have been notified in print format, will also be updated online,” Leena Nandan, additional secretary and financial advisor at the road ministry, explained.
Bhoomi Rashi Portal will enable a total reduction of about 100 days to the process of various notifications, said Nandan.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) already has a common pool of disbursing funds for over a year now.
Meanwhile, a bidder management system for engineering procurement contracts has been put in place, which will make the technical qualification process of bidders online, IK Pandey, additional director-general in the road ministry, said.
Gadkari said the central ministries, including road and rural development, will soon issue a combined notification mandating use of 10 per cent plastic and rubber waste as construction material for roads.
He also said roads will now be constructed with bitumen instead of cement.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), meanwhile, invited bids for a second bundle of national highway projects under the Toll Operate Transfer (TOT) model. The bundle consists of 8 stretches of national highways in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal. With a total length of 586.552 km, these projects will have 12 toll plazas on these 8 road stretches. The bid due date is 5 November 2018.
The projects are estimated to cost Rs5,362 crore, and an initial construction cost of Rs929 crore. Total contract period of TOT is for 30 years, which may increase/ decrease by 10/5 years based on increase/ decrease in traffic.
The concessionaire would be required to maintain and operate the stretches during this period. In Lieu of this, the concessionaire would get the rights to collect user fee for this period, in accordance with prescribed fee rates under NH fee rules (See: NHAI invites bids for 8 NH stretches in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal).