Launching the Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy, 2015, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari said this policy will generate employment opportunities for about five lakh people from rural areas. The aim of the policy is to promote greening of Highway corridors with participation of the community, farmers, private sector, NGOs, and government institutions.
The Minister said that 1% of the total project cost of all highways projects will be kept aside for the highway plantation and its maintenance. He said that about Rs. 1000 crore per year will be available for plantation purpose. He also said that this policy will generate employment opportunities for about five lakh people from rural areas. He added that there will be strong monitoring mechanism in place by using ISRO’s Bhuvan and GAGAN satellite systems.
Every planted tree will be counted and auditing will be done. The agencies performing good will be awarded. He called for suggestions from people for smooth implementation of the policy. He also asked the state governments to start programmes on similar lines. The Green Highway Policy will help make India pollution free, the minister added. It will also help in curtailing the number of road accidents in India. He said that the vision of the policy is to provide dignified employment to local people and communities.
Addressing the conference, Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Pon. Radhakrishnan said it is a historic occasion and a noble initiative that depicts the Government’s concern for conservation of environment. He said the present Government has taken various initiatives to cut pollution by promoting bio-fuel and e-rickshaws, and now the Green Highways Policy has been launched for roadside plantation in this respect.
Speaking at the conference, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Vijay Chhibber said that the vision of the policy is to involve the local communities in the plantation work. He said that the National Forest Policy envisages 33% of the geographical area should be under forest or tree cover, but the notified forest cover is only about 22%. The implementation of new Green Highways Policy can help in bridging this gap, he added. He said that the emphasis is not only on the trees planted, but also on how many of them survive and are useful for the local communities.