Government may launch Green Highways Policy this month

New Delhi: To transform India’s 96,000-km network of National Highways (NHs) into green corridors, a Green Highways Policy is likely to be launched by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari this month.

Under the policy, it will be mandatory to set aside 1% of the total project cost for plantation.

“This is the new architecture — 1% of the funds under any project gets under corpus for green highways. We don’t want to go with the same contractors. There would be a separate set of contractors. The process of identification is on,” Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber said.

Keen on transforming the NHs network into green corridors to minimise pollution, the ‘Green Fund’ is the brainchild of Gadkari, who is confident that once kickstarted, the policy will not only create huge number of jobs but also contribute significantly to the economic growth.

The eco-friendly NHs will be developed with the participation of community, farmers, NGOs, private sector, government agencies and the Forest Department.

“It has been decided that henceforth, for the work related to the greening of National Highways, 1% of the civil work cost should be added separately while arriving at the total project cost (TPC) of National Highways being developed on EPC/BOT mode,” as per the ministry communication.

It said, “1% of the TPC will be set apart for highway plantation and its maintenance. This fund will be transferred to NHAI to maintain a separate fund account called ‘Green Highways Fund’ only for this purpose.” NHAI will act only as a Fund Manager for maintaining the account and releasing payments based on recommendation of concerned officials and agencies.

“This Fund will be utilised for Plantation & Maintenance work on all stretches of National Highways,” it said. Gadkari is likely to launch the Green Highways Policy on September 29.

“The government plans to create a brigade of 1,000 contractors to fulfil this ambitious task. Now, we have taken a decision that 1% of cost in construction is for tree plantation and other things. We are going to create 1,000 contractors in the country,” he has said.

He has said if the cost of road construction comes to around Rs 1 lakh crore, Rs 1,000 crore will go for plantation.

Gadkari has specified that planting trees in any particular area will depend on the soil suitability there, besides climate and success stories like Alphanso can be planted in Konkan in Maharashtra.

The Indian road network 33 lakh km is the second largest in the world and consists of about 96,000 kms of NHs, which constitute only 1.7% of the road network but carry about 40% of the total road traffic.