New Delhi: Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, on Thursday said that the Kerala government has backtracked from its “commitment to bear 25 per cent of the expense” incurred during land acquisition for the development of the National Highways.
His remarks in the Lok Sabha came while discussing setbacks faced by the government during NH construction across the country. Although the topic was not specific to Kerala, he cited it as the example to explain how he handles situations.
Gadkari added that he proposed to give away GST for construction equipment and demanded handing over government land. Rs 100 crore would be needed to construct a one-kilometre stretch of NH in Kerala, he claimed.
When NH-66 development met a stalemate, Kerala proposed that it would bear 25 per cent of the cost incurred for land acquisition. In October 2019, the union and state governments reached a mutual agreement. The government paid the amount on time.
However, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently said in the assembly that the agreement was only applicable to NH-66 and the union government cannot expect the state to do so in all similar projects in the state. He added that NH expansion is the right of the state and not a freebie.
Earlier too, Pinarayi has questioned the agreement. He said it was discriminatory as the union government bears the complete expense of NH construction in other states. Meanwhile, union government maintains that the land rates in Kerala are way higher than other states.