Delay in land acquisition has been identified as one of the factors which slow the pace of highways construction in India. As per the Model Concession Agreement of the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) projects, NHAI is required to handover 80% of the land on the date of financial closure of these projects. That precisely means that NHAI will have to acquire the land in a time bound manner so that commencement of work is not delayed. Based on the experience in earlier phases, it was felt that the existing arrangement of acquiring land may not be adequate to meet the challenges of land acquisition works in the States.
To speed up the process of land acquisition, various steps are being taken by the Union Government. One such measure is setting up of Special Land Acquisition Units (SLAU) in each State. As part of this, more than 170 SLAUs are being set up to deal with the cases of Land Acquisition exclusively for NHDP projects. Earlier land acquisition for NHDP projects was one of many responsibilities of the state revenue officers. The state-wise number of SLAUs is as follows: Rajasthan (10); Bihar (13); U.P (25); Gujarat (07);Orissa (11); West Bengal(13); Tamil Nadu (26); Jharkhand ()4); Maharashtra (11); Punjab (05); Haryana (04); Himachal Pradesh (02); Assam (05); Meghalaya (01); Manipur (01); Mizoram (01); Nagaland (02); Tripura (01); Madhya Pradesh (04); Chhatisgarh (01); J & K(0); Uttrakhand (03); Goa (04); Karnataka (05); Andhra Pradesh (7);’ Kerala (25); Delhi (0).
Since the last two months when instructions in this regard were sent to the States, 55 of such units have already been set up. This includes 20 SLAUs in Tamil Nadu, 4 in Karnataka, 23 in Kerala and 9 in Orissa.
SLAUs would be set up for a specific period of one year and will be headed by ADM/SDM level officer and will have 20-25 Members. All the administrative and establishment charges for SLAU will be borne by NHAI. The infrastructure like hiring of accommodation, vehicles, telephone services etc. will also be provided by NHAI.
The Special Land Acquisition Units would carry out the following functions:
i) Preparation of notification under section 3A (Intention to acquire land)
ii) Preparation of notification under section 3D (1)
iii) Preparation of award
iv Disbursement of compensation to land owners
v) Dispute maters relating to Arbitration cases be referred to Arbitrator, mutation of land acquired under the Act.
As part of this mechanism, senior level Revenue Officer (ADM level) will be required to coordinate with Special Land Acquisition Units in the State. As acquisition of land require intensive monitoring at every level right from District, State and Central level it has also been decided that district level Coordination Committee be constituted under Chairmanship of District Magistrates would be set up.
It is expected that these special units dedicated to land acquisition would ensure speedy land acquisition and give a boost to the highways development programme.