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Hurdles in land acquisition halts critical infra projects

These are among a series of projects that froze as authorities failed to acquire properties needed for their completion
Last Updated : 02 July 2022, 20:18 IST
Last Updated : 02 July 2022, 20:18 IST
Last Updated : 02 July 2022, 20:18 IST
Last Updated : 02 July 2022, 20:18 IST

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Over the past year, work on the Sivananda Circle stumbled to a halt, while the Kundalahalli underpass has staggered and is finally opened up.

These are among a series of projects that froze as authorities failed to acquire properties needed for their completion, causing endless traffic snarls rather than removing the bottlenecks.

“If we had acquired the properties beforehand, we could have completed the project at least two years earlier,” said a BBMP engineer who worked at the Kundalahalli underpass project site.

Asked why the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) runs into such hurdles in almost every project, a senior BBMP official said the civic body had no Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

“Announcement on big projects are made in a rush, mostly because of political pressure. But what the engineers forget is to make sure it is feasible and workable, before going ahead with the project.

“There are instances when projects have been taken up without fund allocations,” a senior BBMP official said.

One more BBMP official pointed to the virtual impossibility of acquiring sufficient land before starting a project. “It might take years to start if we wait until we have all the required properties,” a senior BBMP official from the Project Department said. “At least now, we get the project going when we negotiate to acquire properties.”

TDR’s the bigger problem

Senior BBMP officials admitted to DH that lack of funds is the bigger problem in property acquisition. “People reject Transferable Development Rights (TDR) and demand cash compensation,” explained a senior official.

“Many times, the land acquisition cost would be much higher than the cost of the entire project. When projects are launched under government schemes, the government approves only the project cost while the BBMP bankrolls the land acquisition cost, which is financially burdensome,” a senior BBMP official explained.

Experts faulted the government for crippling the TDRs scheme by its failure to create a robust market for it.

“TDRs are not attractive. At present, there is no official TDR exchange set up for the sellers to buy TDR or the other way. There is a need to make them easily monetisable,” said urban planner V Ravichandar, insisting that the process to issue and use TDR must be simple.

A BBMP official from the Land Acquisition Department said they stopped issuing TDR certificates due to technical difficulties. “Old TDR rules are being changed and there is still confusion on implementing them. In fact, the BDA rejected some of our proposals,” he said. Sources said the BBMP has recommended issuing of TDR to only eight properties since 2017.

Officials also said better enforcement could help build demand for TDR. “TDR allows builders to construct over and above the permitted Floor Area Ratio (FAR). If there’s no strict enforcement and check on those violating FAR violation, builders won’t buy TDR,” a senior BBMP official said.

“The government will soon notify new rules for issuing TDRs. We are confident that this will help us avoid such problems in the future,” BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Girinath said.

Major projects stalled or halted due to delay in land acquisition:

1) Kundalahalli underpass

2) Sivananda Circle flyover

3) Wind Tunnel Road underpass

4) Bannerghatta Road widening

5) Sarjapur Road widening

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Published 02 July 2022, 19:22 IST

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