Nitin Gadkari asks states to release land acquisition dues worth Rs 25,000 crore

NEW DELHI: Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday asked state governments to release Rs 25,000 crore earmarked for land acquisition to inject liquidity into the markets and speed up highway projects in the country.

“An amount of Rs 25,000 crore is pending with land acquisition officers across the country for distribution,” an official aware of the matter said. “The minister has asked state governments to release this money on a priority basis.”

States, including Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, have pending dues of over Rs 4,500 crore each that needs to be disbursed, officials aware of the matter told ET. Bihar, Karnataka, Rajasthan also have close to Rs 2,000 crore lying unutilised.

“This would pump some much needed liquidity into the economy. Plus, the amount roughly translates into 30,000 hectares of land, which can be utilised to speed up work on highway projects in the country,” the official said.

Gadkari on Tuesday held a four-hour long meeting via video-conferencing with chief ministers, deputy chief ministers and transport ministers of various states and union territories.

The minister asked them to take urgent action so that blockades of trucks and lorries at inter-state borders are cleared at the earliest possible to ensure smooth movement of essential goods to various parts of the country, the transport ministry said in a statement.

A presentation was made showing the works being carried out during the lockdown period, the statement said. It was stated that 1,315 projects covering 49,238 kms worth Rs 5,89,648 crore were under progress. Of these, 819 projects covering 30,301 kms costing about Rs 3,06,250 crore were delayed.

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