406 highway projects stuck in litigation

The government may have plans to award just 53 projects covering 55,000 km of national highways this year,but as many as 406 contracts awarded over a period of time...

Written by Gunjan Pradhan Sinha | New Delhi | Published:January 20, 2009 12:54 am

The government may have plans to award just 53 projects covering 55,000 km of national highways this year,but as many as 406 contracts awarded over a period of time are under litigation because of various reasons. The number of projects stuck in the courts was disclosed to The Indian Express in response to a right to information (RTI) application made a few weeks ago.

The number of projects in litigation is almost eight times the number of projects the National Highways Authority of India plans to award this year. The National Highways Development Programme was launched as an ambitious infrastructure development programme in December 1999.

“Litigation has been one of the major causes for delays in various phases of the NHDP a large number of which have been affected by problems related to land acquisition,” a senior government official said.

“As many as 70 per cent of these cases are on account of incomplete projects stuck on account of land acquisition problems,” said Murali M,director general,National Highway Builders Federation (NHBF),representing the country’s top road developers.

“What is worse is that this could be for a two kilometre stretch in between a 50-km stretch stalling the major part of the road construction,” he explained. The other reasons that contribute to litigation in national road projects include complications in the process of variation,delayed progress and prolonged litigation when the verdict by a lower court goes against the government.

In cases where the verdict goes against the government irrespective of the nature of dispute,the government is obliged to appeal.

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