Pranab supports land acquisition for development

Speaking here after laying the foundation stone for the four-lane National Highway No 34, Pranab noted that for projects such as the expansion of important national highways, land acquisition “is a must because it has strategic and financial importance.”
The remark assumes significance in the backdrop of Mamata skipping a Group of Ministers’ (GoM) meeting on Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill called by Mukherjee in New Delhi last week.

The 482 km long NH-34 will provide the vital road connectivity to the northeastern states of Sikkim, Bhutan and also Nepal and Bangladesh. The highway is envisaged to acquire around 680 hectares of land and cost the National Highway Authority of India Rs 4,227 crore.

However, reiterating his government’s commitment to inclusive growth, the finance minister said the Centre was working over a suitable relief and rehabilitation package to make land acquisition as less controversial and painless as possible. He added that the “package” will also offer employment opportunities to those who lose their lands.
“The GoM headed by me is currently seized with the idea of framing the package,” Mukherjee said, but declined to specify when the same would be announced.
The paradigm of the latest strategy, he said, will be empowerment of people followed by entitlement which will be backed by enactment.

Mukherjee added that in order to inject pace and ensure real development, the Centre is also keen on bringing out a comprehensive Food Security Bill, much in the fashion of the Rural Guarantee Act, which will result into the much-needed socio-economic upliftment.
According to Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways R P N Singh, the government is committed to bridge the divide between “Bharat and India” and floated the Central Road Fund. A total stretch of 48,000 km under various national highways in the country would require around Rs 2,47,635 crore for conversion to four and six lanes.
“The ministry has sought additional budget allocation from the finance minister to meet the target in phases,” Singh added.

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