A portion of the stretch of NH6 between Kharagpur and Moulia. Picture by Samir Mondal
Midnapore, Sept. 12: The four-laning of National Highway-6 between Kharagpur and Moulia in Jharkhand can’t take off primarily because the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has not been able to trace documents proving land that needed to be acquired belongs to it.
The NHAI has failed to produce documents establishing its claim on land along the highway’s stretches that run through forests in Kharagpur and Jhargram. There is no human habitation on the land.
The authority claims it owns 100 of the 320 acres needed along the stretches, which add up to 20km.
The NHAI had written to the forest department seeking the remaining 220 acres but was told a month ago to apply in a prescribed format.
The NHAI can’t begin the four-laning of the 127km stretch between Kharagpur and Moulia, which is now two-laned, until the land needed for the entire portion is acquired.
The highways authority needs to produce the documents for the 100 acres to get a no-objection certificate from the forest department as trees will have to be felled to expand the road.
A sum of Rs 950 crore has been earmarked for widening the Kharagpur-Moulia stretch of NH6, commonly known as Bombay Road.
NHAI officials said the Bengal government had acquired 100 acres in 1963-64 and later handed it over to the highways authority through the public works department.
“To get the no-objection certificate, the land documents will have to be submitted to the forest department. But we can’t find all the documents,” an NHAI official said.
Pankaj Mishra, the project manager of the NHAI, said: “The land that belongs to us was clearly demarcated in the 1970s. There are no occupants. As a government agency, we are claiming that it is our land. If there is any dispute, the responsibility is ours.
“We have the documents but can’t immediately trace all of them. We are searching for the documents. We request the forest department to give us the no-objection certificate so that we can start the work.”
Another NHAI official said the 100 acres was not contiguous. “We have to find the document of all the plots that were handed over to us,” he said.
A land department official suggested that the NHAI write to the department to verify the ownership of the land. “If the land belongs to the NHAI, it will be mentioned in our records,” the official said.
NHAI project director T.K. Baidya said the four-laning had been held up since the project was sanctioned in 2011.
Asked about the remaining 220 acres, an NHAI official said: “We had written letters to the Kharagpur and Jhargram divisions of the forest department in end-2012, seeking the transfer of the land. The forest department informed us only a month ago that we would have to apply in the prescribed format. We are preparing the application again.”
The divisional forest officer of Jhargram, Ashis Samanta, said that had the NHAI applied in the prescribed format, “we would have conducted a survey and sent it to the forest department”.
He added that a meeting of senior forest and NHAI officials had been called in Calcutta on September 19 to sort out the problem.