Hit By Official Apathy, NHAI Approaches Punjab And Haryana HC To Resolve Land Acquisition Issues For Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway


Confronted with significant delays in getting possession of land for the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The application seeking directions to the highest civil and police authorities of the state to assist NHAI in taking possession of land has been filed after Harjit Singh Bajwa, a resident of Batala submitted a petition seeking compensation for land acquired for the project, writes Indian Express.

In its submission, the NHAI has contended that an approximate sum of Rs 3,927.60 crore has been awarded in respect of land acquired for the project in Punjab out of which an amount of Rs 3,090.55 crore has already been paid to the landowners as compensation.

However, even after the disbursal of compensation to the landowners, the highway authority has been unable to gain possession of the land for the past two years.

Furthermore, the High Court was informed about the consistent reminders sent to the local civil and police authorities, urging them to offer police assistance to both the contractor and NHAI.

The situation is particularly dire in Gurdaspur, where, despite disbursing Rs 288 crore, the NHAI has been unable to take physical possession of even an inch of land, the agency’s counsel submitted.

The NHAI counsel additionally asserted that the project holds national significance and is being monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office.

However, due to opposition from landowners, the project has encountered delays in several areas of the state. In fact, construction is taking place on land that has already been acquired, conveyed the NHAI counsel.

Taking note of the contentions of NHAI, the high court, while issuing a notice to the state, ordered the Punjab chief secretary, and SDM Batala to file a status report.

Rs 40,000 Crore Ambitious Project

The 669 km long Delhi – Amritsar – Katra Expressway is being built at a total cost of about Rs 39,500 crore.

The four-lane access-controlled expressway being developed by the NHAI will bring down the travel time from Delhi to Amritsar to barely four-and-a-half hours and the journey time between the national capital and Katra will reduce to only six hours instead of 12 hours now.

Currently, the fastest train, Vande Bharat Express, takes eight hours to reach Katra from New Delhi station. Officials said once the project is fully operational, people can reach Srinagar in ten-and-a-half hours.

The greenfield expressway will connect key Sikh religious sites, namely, Shri Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar, Shir Ber Sahib at Sultanpur Lodhi, Shri Goindwal Sahib and Shri Khadoor Sahib at Taran Taran and terminate at Katra, gateway to the holy Hindu shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi.

The expressway will also connect key economic centres like Ambala Chandigarh, Mohali, Sangrur, Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Kathua and Samba in the three states and UTs of Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.