Land acquisition is a major problem in road construction projects and state governments should come out with solutions and help find a way out, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Replying to queries during Question Hour, he said the main problem in delay of projects was land acquisition as the cost was very high in some states, but claimed his ministry had saved NPAs worth 3 lakh crore during the past five years through early implementation.

Gadkari said some state governments are now coming forward to assure the ministry of easing land acquisition process and bearing its cost, which is helping in early implementation of projects.

“The main problem relates to land acquisition. Land acquisition cost is very high and problematic. In the last regime, we have awarded projects worth Rs 11 lakh crore.

“Land acquisition is so much that it is very difficult for the government to bear the cost. This is the time for the state government that we should find a solution,” he told the Upper House.

Gadkari cited the example of Uttar Pradesh, where the state government has taken responsibility for giving 50 per cent cost for the ring road.

He said many states are coming forward, but this is a very serious problem in Kerala, because the cost of land is so high that it is beyond imagination.

“We want to find a solution, but state government has to bear the cost and find a way out,” he said, adding projects are not delayed because of land acquisition any longer now.

“There were 403 projects pending when Narendra Modi came to power involving a cost of 3,85,000 crore. It is a great achievement of Indian government that we saved bankers of Rs 3 lakh crore of NPAs and now 90 per cent of projects are moving fast,” he said.

The minister said his ministry was not moving forward with the project without 80 per cent of land acquisition and this principle is being followed very strictly.

He said the ministry is also using best technology and information from satellites.

The maximum problem relating to construction is due to DPR and “we are using satellite, drones and new types of technology for construction,” he informed members.

The minister said Bharatmala-2 project involves laying of 65,000 km, of which work on 8,000 km has already been awarded.

“The total cost is going upto 10 lakh crore. We are raising money from capital market and the Finance Ministry has not given us a single rupee for Bharatmala project,” he said.

In reply to another question, Gadkari informed that the Mumbai-Goa Expressway Project (NH-66) will be completed within the next one year.

Gadkari said there are problems in road construction, sometimes it is due to banks and sometimes environment clearance.

He said every year there are 5 lakh accidents. 1.5 lakh people die every year in road accidents. “We are highest in the world.”

There is a need to widen roads as traffic is increasing by 10-12 per cent every year, he said, adding efforts are being made to transplant trees that are uprooted.

“We start project only when 80 per cent of land is acquired. Land acquisition is a state subject. The district collector of a State acquires land. We are ready to pay money,” the minister said.

Gadkari said there are number of projects in Bihar that are stuck because 80 per cent land has not been acquired.

Contractors exit projects because of slow land acquisition process and they claim crores in compensation from the Centre, he said, adding there is a need to come out from “this vicious circle“.

Gadkari said land acquisition process is very slow in West Bengal and Bihar.

In a written reply, the minister said the Government of India approved implementation of Bharatmala Pariyojna Phase-I in October, 2017 with an estimated outlay of Rs 5,35,000 Crore for development of 34,800 km length of National Highways (including 10,000 km residual NHDP road works) in the entire country.

Under this programme, 13 road projects with total length of about 506 km and total cost Rs 12,785 crores have been approved till March 2019 for Andhra Pradesh.

Out of these projects, 12 nos. of road projects with aggregate length of about 479 km and total cost Rs. 12,187 crores have been awarded till March 2019. Further, ring road at Vijaywada/Amravati in Andhra Pradesh have also been identified for development.