Rs.1,000 crore to be spent in a year on greening highways

The central government aims to spend around Rs.1,000 crore in a one-year period on greening Indian roads under a policy for highways to be unveiled soon, a senior official said on Thursday.

“The government intends to take up road projects worth Rs.1 lakh crore in a year and one percent of it comes to Rs.1,000 crore which will be spent for plantation of trees along national highways,” Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber told reporters here.

The Green Highways Policy scheduled to be launched by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on September 29 makes it mandatory for road builders to earmark one percent of the total project cost for plantation activity.

Chhibber said one percent of the project cost would be transfered to a green corpus to be utilised by the local community, self-help groups and registered NGOs, who would all be empanelled for the purpose.

“The government has authorised IHMCL, a company promoted by NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) for empanelling of plantation agencies and only empanelled agencies will be allowed to bid for planting work on the national highways,” he said.

The secretary said the present system had become a game of numbers by concessionaires with real trees not coming up.

“We don’t want to go with the same contractors. The growth of plants will be monitored for five years,” he said.

“There will be an agency to monitor the progress of plantation, which will also conduct performance audit. The survival should be 90 percent after raising the plantation of one year and fee will be released on annuity basis,” he added.