To boost the industrial empire in India, national highways play an important role. Loss of vegetation is one of the inevitable consequences of Highway Development. The Green Highway Policy aims to develop eco-friendly National Highways with participation of the community, farmers, NGOs, private sector, institutions, government agencies and the Forest Department. The intent of this policy is to have plantations along the national highways to trim down impact of air pollution, dust noise pollution, soil erosion, prevent glare from head light of incoming vehicles, etc. It will also provide shade on roads during summer, generate employment to local people and enhance biodiversity.
Policy lay down guidelines for plantation. Single species should be planted over long stretches of road so as to enhance the aesthetic quality and also for easier management. For its efficient implementation, it lay down parameters for selection of plants. Under the policy, an action plan is to be prepared regarding additional landscaping measures and traveller amenities. If the land is insufficient to implement this program, acquisition of additional land should be seriously considered.
Its implementation can be conducted either by the forest department or through private agency through bidding for management purpose or naturally grown trees. MoRTH /NHAI will appoint the authorised agency for empanelment of Plantation Agencies. Only empanelled agencies will be allowed to bid for planting work on the National Highways. For few areas, permission for tree cutting might be required to be undertaken from the forest department under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. While granting the permission, the forest department stipulates the conditions not only for compensatory afforestation (CA) but also for avenue plantations. In these cases, the amount for avenue plantation is conducted with the Forest Department.
The local forest department shall be consulted before starting any plantation, for ensuring compliance to any regulation in force that may affect raising, maintenance, and harvesting of the raised plantation. Necessary modifications will be made in the plantation scheme, in consultation with the forest department, to ensure compliance to law and to avoid complications at the time of harvesting and transportation of forest produce. In case the State Government has any provision for registration of such plantations, the same will be ensured under the relevant scheme.
For roadside plantations, nodal agencies will be encouraged to involve the local institutions like Panchayats, JFMCs & SHGs for plantations as per these guidelines.
The Nodal agency for forest areas will be the concerned forest range office. In case of Public Funded Projects the concerned Regional Officer of MoRT&H/NHAI will be the nodal agency. In cases where roadside plantation is included in the concession agreement, the concerned concessionaire will be the nodal agency.
Ministry of Road Transport & Highways reserves the right to renew or amend the policy from time to time. There will be an Advisory committee which will meet once in a quarter and give its recommendations/advice to the monitoring cell. The ROs of MoRTH/NHAI in the district will be the convener of this committee.
(Blogger: Krishna Srinivasan)