Govt fails to honour budget announcement about creation of Land Compensation Fund

Several DCs too fail to timely disburse available amount

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 13: Contrary to the tall claims about expediting developmental projects, the PDP-BJP Coalition Government has failed to honour announcement made in the budget regarding creation of Land Compensation Fund at the level of Deputy Commissioners, the objective of which was to ensure speedier acquisition of land for the infrastructure development in the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir. For want of funds running into several hundred crores of rupees, land acquisition proceedings for several projects in almost all the sectors have been going on at a snail’s pace during the past quite long time.
While presenting budget for the current financial year in the month of January this year, the Minister for Finance Dr Haseeb Drabu had announced that Government has decided to come up with a new mechanism to ensure speedier land acquisition for infrastructure development.
“A major roadblock in the connectivity and other infrastructure development is the process of land acquisition. One constraint in this process is the money for compensation. I am proposing a Land Compensation Fund to be created at the level of the Deputy Commissioners in which money will be earmarked for land acquisition cases in the districts. This will help speed up the land acquisition”, he had stated in the budget speech.
He had even mentioned about non-payment of compensation by PWD and PMGSY to the Forest Department over last 10 years as a result of which Forest Department was not able to give No Objection Certificates (NOC) to many projects. In this regard, the Finance Minister had announced that Government will clear this liability to the extent it is authorized before March 31, 2017.
However, despite lapse of seven months the announcement regarding creation of Land Compensation Fund at the level of Deputy Commissioners has remained confined to official documents, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “the Deputy Commissioners have not heard even a single word in this regard from the Finance Department till date”.
“The delay in creation of Land Compensation Fund is notwithstanding the fact that huge amount of land compensation was pending across the State”, sources said while disclosing that for want of sufficient funds the land acquisition proceedings in respect of huge number of developmental projects were going on at a snail’s pace in almost all the districts of Jammu and Kashmir and District Collectors (Deputy Commissioners) have been left with no other option but to watch the situation with fingers crossed.
According to the official figures, an amount of Rs 120 crore is required for completion of land acquisition in respect of Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) projects in Jammu province. Similarly, requirement of an amount of Rs 28 crore has been projected for land acquisition for the health sector projects. Amount projected for land under acquisition process in respect of Public Works Department is Rs 471 crore.
“Even land acquisition proceedings in respect of Border Roads Organization (BRO) and PMGSY projects have been going on at a snail’s pace for want of sufficient land compensation funds required to be paid to land owners which also include certain Government departments particularly Forest Department”, sources said.
They disclosed that in view of delayed land acquisition proceedings for want of compensation amount even the concerned authorities are not in a position to specify time-frame for start of work on infrastructure development what to talk of their completion.
“Moreover, there are numerous instances which point towards failure of the District Collectors (Deputy Commissioners) to disburse the compensation amount available with them”, sources said while disclosing that an amount of Rs 29 crore is yet to be disbursed to the land owners for the BRO projects in Jammu province while as Rs 16 crore is pending for disbursal to the land owners for the PWD projects.
They informed that creation of Land Compensation Fund at the level of Deputy Commissioners was aimed at ensuring timely disbursal of compensation to land owners as well as making District Collectors accountable. “Due to non-serious approach of the Finance Department both these objectives could not be achieved till date”, sources regretted.
When contacted, several Deputy Commissioners, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that no formal order has been issued by the Government for creation of Land Acquisition Fund, which they otherwise feel, would go a long way in expediting land acquisition process.

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