New Delhi: Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said that the land acquisition cost in Kerala is "very high" and the Centre is not able to "bear" it for National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) projects.
The Minister made the announcement in the Lok Sabha while responding to the query of a lawmaker during question hour on the subject of "Conversion of National Highways into four and six lanes".
"Land acquisition cost is very high in Kerala. We are not able to bear. I had requested the state Chief Minister and he assured to provide 25 per cent help to the Centre in sharing the burden of land acquisition cost," Gadkari said.
In the backdrop of the issue, the Minister urged state governments to share 50 per cent land acquisition cost for non-economically viable projects like ring road.
Mentioning that 40 per cent cement and steel is used in NHAI projects, Gadkari urged state governments to offer "royalty free" move for NHAI projects which are not economically viable. "Our aim is only to provide 100 per cent good concrete roads to states."
He, however, mentioned that 75 to 85 per cent projects are economically viable.
Noting that traffic density increases nine to 12 per cent in the country every year, the Minister said Green field express Highways are also being constructed apart from four, six and eight lane highways to diversify the traffic.
Referring to news about insufficient funds with National Highways, the Minister said we will mortgage toll to banks for 20 years and take debt from them on a project-to-project basis and would pay back through a new model.
"The model is for economically viable projects. State Bank has given 50,000 crore debt accepting the model and other banks are also ready. Thorough this model 75 per cent of our projects will be clear".
The Minister asserted that budget support from the Centre is "very good" but an amount of Rs 9.5 lakh crore is being spent in Bharatmala Project -- centrally-sponsored and funded Road and Highways project of government of India for 83,677 km.