New rules for greening national highways

The ministry of road transport and highways is likely to allocate Rs 600-850 crore this financial year for greening National Highway corridors under a new Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy-2015, to be launched on Tuesday.

One per cent of the total project cost of a national highway will be to beautify it, to be implemented by a different agency than the construction company for the civil works. Vijay Chhibber, the ministry's secretary, told Business Standard: “The government aims to award NH projects worth Rs 1-1.25 lakh crore this financial year. We have already allocated projects worth Rs 40,000 crore.”

Plantations and their maintenance might be taken up through outsourcing agencies, via bidding. Initially, only empanelled agencies will be allowed to bid for planting work. There are 97,000 km of NHs, about 1.9 per cent of total road length. The policy aims at changing the whole process for venue plantation and landscape improvement. Earlier, the land needed for these was not considered during the Detailed Project Report (DPR) stage. The new policy has recommended that the requirement of land for tree plantation be included in the plans prepared by DPR consultants. This is to ensure a proper plan for plantation and the space required, before highway construction.

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