Green Canopy Along Highways

Aug 30, 2016

Finance ministry has red-flagged plan

New Delhi:  The finance ministry has red-flagged a Rs.5,000 crore plan by the roads ministry to plant trees along national highways, saying such initiatives should be the remit of the environment ministry.The road ministry wants to plant trees along 6,000 km of highways, with a corpus of Rs.1,000 crore set aside for the drive in the first year.The finance ministry said the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) under the environment ministry, which looks after social forestry, already has accumulated funds of Rs.38,000 crore."CAMPA falls under the aegis of Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change. The government has already introduced a bill in the Parliament to create a fund in the public account and to transfer the said funds accumulated into it. As the activities of CAMPA are very closely related to what is being proposed by the road ministry, establishment of a separate fund may result in overlap of responsibilities besides unnecessary parking of funds when a large corpus is already available with CAMPA," the finance ministry said in a letter to the roads ministry.

The government plans to spend an estimated Rs. 5,000 crores, which is 1 per cent of the road construction cost of Rs 5 trillion till 2019, on the Mission and link it with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to boost the rural economy. The fund earmarked for the Mission would flow into the Green Fund for plantation. Under the initiative, a plantation drive on 1,500 km of national highways was launched at a cost of Rs 300crore.

 The mission aims to provide a green canopy along 1,00,000 km of highways and create jobs for one million youths. The objective of the mission is to develop eco-friendly national highways with participation of the community, farmers, NGOs, private sector, institutions, government agencies and the forest department for economic growth and development in a sustainable manner. "NGHM will empanel a list of companies, NGOs, cooperatives and institutions to undertake the work of planting trees along the highways."

Providing green and creating jobs for the youth

In five years, motorists on large parts of India's extensive national highways can hope to have a green canopy to protect them against heat, dust and glare as the National Green Highway Mission (NGHM) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways takes root.The Mission got underway on July 1, 2016, with Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari kick-starting the initial plantation drive along 1,500 kms of national highways with a budget of about Rs.300 crores.

The government plans to spend an estimated Rs. 5,000 crores, which is 1 per cent of the road construction cost of Rs 5 trillion till 2019, on the Mission and link it with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to boost the rural economy. The fund earmarked for the Mission would flow into the Green Fund for plantation. Ten states are already on board. Many large firms have shown a readiness to pitch in. Power Finance Corporation (PFC) has adopted a stretch on NH 7 in Nagpur region for plantation and maintenance of trees. Coal India Ltd has also shown a willingness to join the effort. Calling upon government and private agencies to join hands under the initiative, Gadkari said only serious players need to come forward as the projects will be monitored through satellite technology, and payments will be made only after successful implementation. An App to monitor real-time progress of the plantation operation and its management was also launched on the occasion.

 

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