Bengaluru, DHNS: Rs 12,000-cr drinking water project delayed for want of land. Law and Minor Irrigation Minister T B Jayachandra on Thursday said the state government has been exploring the possibility of purchasing lands directly from farmers for the speedy implementation of the Yettinahole drinking water project.
The minister said land acquisition has been a major hurdle for the government. A majority of the farmers are ready to give their lands for the project. But there is no legal provision for direct purchase of land.
Up to 100 acres can be purchased directly if it is for an infrastructure project. Hence, the government has been examining whether a provision can be made by amending any of the existing laws.
Jayachandra was speaking to reporters after attending a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to review the project. Water Resources Minister M B Patil, Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa, Health Minister Ramesh Kumar, Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy and Chikkaballapur MP M Veerappa Moily were present in the meeting.
Sources in the Water Resources department said the government is exploring other options also to acquire land as acquisition under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (Central Act) will be a time-consuming process. Though the foundation stone for the Rs 12,912.36-crore project was laid in March 2014, it has not made much progress due to non-availability of land.
Jayachandra, however, did not directly blame the 2013 land acquisition act for the project delay.
“Under the Act, social impact assessment of land acquisition is a must. It is being done in some places in Tumakuru and Kolar districts...It (social impact assessment) takes time to complete. But our intention is to expedite the project meant for supplying drinking water to Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts,” he stated.
The minister said the government is ready for signing “consent decree” (mutual settlement) with farmers to purchase their lands. Land will be purchased at the price stipulated under the 2013 land acquisition Act. An estimated Rs 2,300 crore is required for land acquisition alone. Of the eight weirs (small barrier built to divert water) planned under the project, one is almost complete, he added.
The project requires a total of 6,145 hectares. The government has so far acquired 255 hectares under the lift component through tripartite agreements, involving land owners, contractors and the government, he said.
At the meeting, the chief minister directed officials to take measures to speed up the project implementation. The project has suffered delay due to land acquisition problems. The ministers concerned should ensure proper coordination among all the departments and clear bottlenecks, if any, Siddaramaiah stated.
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