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Panel asks Road Ministry to simplify land acquisition, contract award norms

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 28, 2021

To prevent project delays due to litigation, include quality element in awarding contract

Observing that land acquisition issues are at the core of delays faced in road projects, the Parliament Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has asked the Surface Transport Ministry to review and simplify land acquisition guidelines from-time-to-time. The panel asked the Ministry to incorporate “suitable modifications” to simplify the process of land acquisition and for ironing out the various constraints faced in land acquisition.

A report submitted by the panel, headed by BJP MP TG Venkatesh, said the alignment given for any given project should be finalised only after taking inputs from all stakeholders and the local populace. It said all projects should also consider the future traffic projections, environmental concerns. “Changing the alignment at a later stage of the project can be a costly affair and should be avoided,” the report noted.

The panel said the present Land Value Capture Mechanism may help the Ministry in managing the huge increase in road project costs due to land acquisition costs in the past several years. “The Committee recommends that the Ministry may consider making the upfront contribution of State governments flexible, fixing it on the basis of the financial ability of the State Government,” it said.

A mechanism for upfront payment to the land-owner can be worked out to guarantee a payment in the form of annuity for the long-term financed through land value captured by the State Government. The Committee believes that such a system will reduce land acquisition litigation which cause time and cost overrun, the report said.

It asked the Ministry to undertake a holistic review of the DPR preparation stage of road projects. It also recommended a central database of scores obtained by the different road projects of each concessionaire/contractor, which may be analysed to ascertain the quality of work executed by all the concessionaires. The panel also asked the Ministry to analyse the shortcomings of the existing mechanism for awarding road projects to the lowest bidder. The Committee believes that there should be consideration for other factors besides the bidding amount, while awarding a project to a concessionaire. A qualitative approach must be formulated for awarding road projects.

The Committee recommended that the Ministry may take up with the Central Vigilance Commission the modification of the CVC guidelines for awarding of tender in a suitable way to permit an element of qualitative approach in the tender awarding process.

Published on July 28, 2021

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