New Delhi: Government on Monday said problems in land acquisition was one of the main factors in delays in the implementation of National Highway Development Projects (NHDP).

Answering queries on the issue during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, C P Joshi said, "Land acquisition is one of the factors contributing to delay in implementation of some projects under NHDP."

Out of the 226 projects under implementation by NHAI, 58 projects are currently delayed due to multiple reasons including land acquisition, he added.

The issues causing hindrance in the NHAI projects are forest clearance, poor performance of contractors and utility shifting.

 Joshi said protection of wildlife during acquisition of land should be ensured while the responsibility of forest clearance lay with the state governments.

Supriya Sule (NCP) sought to know why environmental clearances are not taken at the initial stage of the highways projects despite the authorities being aware that this is a must and causes delay.

 Joshi said this issue is being looked into and assured the House that his ministry tried to avoid any harm to wildlife in acquisition of land for the highways. On forest clearances he maintained that since this was to be done by the states, they should cooperate in giving the go-ahead.

The ministry is also forming land acquisition units at the district and Tehsildar levels to smoothen the process.

 Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) alleged that due to the "high-handed" attitude of the Planning Commission, all chief engineers of NHAI had resigned and held Joshi and his ministry responsible for the problems. Joshi denied this, saying there was no conflict between his ministry and NHAI.

Joshi maintained that Rs 5,000 Crore had been invested in the NHAI projects recently and 4,000 km of road projects sanctioned.

He informed the House that 3,700 km of highways would be sanctioned every year for three consecutive years.

Nama Nageshwar Rao (TDP) wanted to know why the Road Transport and Highways Ministry was not monitoring acquisition of land continously. Joshi said land is a state subject and the primary responsibility for this lay with the states.

In reply to another question, Joshi said "very effective measures" were being taken to address concerns about extending the roads and highways beyond Jammu in Jammu and Kashmir. He maintained that his ministry was even looking at possibilities of improving road connectivity with Leh and Ladakh.