NEW DELHI:The Centre will accord star ratings to national highways based on parameters like safety, user amenities, sustainability and greening to provide a world-class experience to road travelers. At least Rs 5,000 crore will be spent on providing green cover along the national highways in the next five years under the Green Highways Policy.
Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari, who unveiled the policy here Tuesday, said one per cent of the total project cost of all highways projects will be kept aside for plantation along the highways and its maintenance.
“We are committed to taking up highway projects worth Rs 5 lakh crore and one per cent of it — Rs 5,000 crore would be spent on plantation alongside the national highways. This policy will generate employment opportunities for about five lakh people from rural areas,” said Gadkari.
He explained that a strong monitoring mechanism would be put in place with the help of ISRO’s Bhuvan and GAGAN satellite systems and every planted tree will be counted and auditing also done. The government also proposed to devise a mechanism for rating of national highways by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to improve amenities and safety of travellers.
Urging commuters, farmers, NGOs, private sector, government agencies, self-help groups (SHGs) and the Forest Department to come forward to participate in the scheme, Gadkari said non-serious entities should stay away as funds would be released to the agencies only on the basis of survival rates of plants. The Green Highways Policy envisages fighting climate change by increasing green cover and curtailing the number of road accidents. All expressways and access-controlled highways, including Delhi-Katra, would be built as green highways under the policy and the government may extend this to the PM Gramin Vikas Yojana and other schemes to realise the dream of ‘Clean India and Green India’, Gadkari said.
Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber said the forest cover at present was only 22 per cent of the land mass out of the desired 33 per cent and that the policy would play a pivotal role in bridging the gap of 11 per cent. The Indian road network of 48 lakh km is the second largest in the world and consists of about 96,000 kms of highways — just two per cent of the network.
■ Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari says Rs 5,000 cr or 1% of the Rs 5 lakh crore investment on national highways will be spent on ensuring green cover
■ Strong monitoring mechanism to be put in place with help from ISRO’s Gagan and Bhuvan satellite systems
■ Policy also says the govt will give star ratings to national highways depending on safety and other parameters.