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Delayed by 2 years, Pathankot-Mandi highway project cost rises by 20%

A two-year delay in the Pathankot-Mandi four-lane road widening project is going to escalate the total cost of the project by 20 per cent.

Initially, the project was to be completed within three years before April 2020. But, the failure of the state government to acquire land for the project has led to the delay.

As per the original detailed project report prepared by Joint Ventures and Infrastructure Casta Limited, a private company, in 2016, the total cost of the project was estimated at Rs 8,000 crore but it could now rise to over Rs 10,000 crore.

Land acquisition for the 220-km project was to be done before December 2018. However, the state has not been able to acquire even 40% of the land required for the project.

In 2017, the NHAI opened its project director’s office in Palampur. To date, the government has acquired land only for three phases, comprising 90-km stretch of the highway. But, there is no headway in land acquisition for the remaining phases, comprising 130-km between Paror and Mandi.

Also, the Centre had already released Rs 300 crore to the state to meet the cost of the acquired land. The main reason for the delay in land acquisition is attributed to the poor performance of revenue officials concerned in Kangra and Mandi. The state had failed to form special revenue teams to acquire land for Centrally-sponsored projects. Besides, most of the files pertaining to issuing NOCs remained stuck in government offices in Shimla for a long period.

Because of slow land acquisition, the NHAI had recently made some modifications in the alignment of the project. Now, it has been decided that highway widening will be done only up to Paror (Palampur) and the remaining 130-km stretch of the highway between Palampur and Mandi will be widened to two lanes.

NHAI project director Anil Sen says they have already awarded contracts for the first and second phases. “However, the land acquisition for the 130-km stretch between Paror and Mandi is pending, therefore there’s no headway for awarding the contracts. Besides, the land acquisition on the highway passing thought the Gaggal airport is also pending because of its expansion,” he adds.

Sen says the matter is pending with the state. “The project has been delayed by two years and its cost has also escalated by 20%,” he adds.

Source : “The Tribune” via Dailyhunt 

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