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Metro phase-III project: Delays in acquiring land posed problems

New Delhi: Delays in acquiring land, getting No-Objection Certificates besides other unanticipated hurdles plagued the third phase of Delhi Metro project, leading to time overrun in expansion of the national capital's modern transport system. The phase III of the project was scheduled to start in May 2011 but first construction could begin only in January 2012 and a small section still remains unfinished. It is likely to be completed by the year-end.

Unlike this phase, land acquisition for the first phase of the Metro project posed no problem and was carried out smoothly.

Among the challenges, a major one was land acquisition since the new Land Acquisition Act was in place during this phase of the project which made it extremely difficult to acquire land as the machinery to be put in place to implement this act was still not in place and compensation levels were also expected to be much higher, said Anuj Dayal, Executive Director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC)..

"In comparison, in the earlier phases, DMRC was able to acquire the land needed for the project reasonably smoothly under the provision of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 with the help of the state government and good judicial support. DMRC, thus had to acquire private land in Phase 3 through direct negotiation with individual landowners which was a difficult and time-consuming process," he said.

Dayal said land acquisition issues have often delayed Delhi Metro's pace of work, but the DMRC team has always worked hard to make up for the lost time and completed its projects within schedule.

Initially, the third phase of the Delhi Metro project was supposed to be only 103 km long but gradually its size increased with the Metro going to various parts of the National Capital Region (NCR), including Bahadurgarh, Ghaziabad, Noida, Ballabhgarh, among others, which made the whole project about 160 kms in length, he said.

"On multiple stretches, land could not be acquired and the contractors could not begin work. There were stretches where the necessary land for construction work could not be arranged on time. These areas were the Chirag Delhi Metro station and the Kalindi Kunj depot," Dayal said.

A similar issue was also faced at the Okhla NSIC Metro station where it took a delay of about two years in acquiring the land.

"Initially, the Okhla NSIC station was part of a package of six elevated stations from Okhla NSIC till Kalindi Kunj. However, work began on all other stretches in December, 2012 while the Okhla NSIC station's work could not be started due to land acquisition delays. Therefore, when the land could be acquired two years later, it was brought out of the purview of the earlier contract package and a separate exclusive tender for this station was floated."

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