Green Highways Policy is a project for developing green corridors along developed and upcoming National Highways through plantation, transplantation, beautification, landscaping and maintenance activities.The Green Highways Policy was unveiled by the Ministry of Road Transport % Highways (MoRTH) on 29th September, 2015.
Development of Highways leads to clearance of forests and felling of trees which in turn causes wide scale environment degradation in the form of biodiversity loss and release of carbon stocked in trees. The situation is made worse with the incessant flow of vehicles on these highways contributing further in release of greenhouse gases and other suspended particulate matter. Hence, Green Highways Policy was enacted as a proactive measure for pollution containment in highways.
National Green Highways Mission (NGHM) under National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been entrusted for overall planning, implementation and monitoring of Green Highways Policy.
Phase 1 of the Green Highways Projects is carried out across 10 states covering 25 National Highways. The ongoing and upcoming projects of Phase 1 projects can be viewed here: http://nationalgreenhighways.org/ongoing-national-highway-development-project / http://nationalgreenhighways.org/upcoming-green-highway-projects-in-india.
Provisions of funding for planning, implementation, management and monitoring of green corridor development shall be done by allocating 1% of total project cost of all new national highways projects. Financial resource planning for Green Highways Projects will be done through convergence with federal schemes. Institutional tie-ups will be established for leveraging technology for efficient green corridor planning. Community involvement for project implementation, establishing repurchase arrangement for sustainable harvest with local agro-forestry industries and linking greenhouse gases sequestration benefits with voluntary carbon offset markets. All these efforts will make National Green Highways Mission self-sustainable in next 10 years.
The Green Highways Project envisions developing eco-friendly national highways with participation of the community, farmers, NGOs, private sector, institutions, government agencies and the Forest Department. The community involvement will be sought in the following ways:
The development of green corridors will create resilient ecosystems for combating the threats of global warming and climate change effects. Green corridors will help in reducing the impact of air pollution and dust as trees are known to be natural sink for air pollutants. Tree, plant and shrub plantation will help in absorption of green house gases and collection of dust particles. Moreover, the sequestration of greenhouse gases will help India fulfill its commitment at CoP 21 summit for carbon reduction of up to 35 % by 2030. It will also reduce the danger of soil erosion at embankment slopes.
Plantation of trees and shrub species shall be selected based on its ecological importance and economic value while also prioritizing aesthetics and road safety. Rare, Endangered and Threatened (RET) tree/shrub species of specific regions shall also be planted for their conservation. The plantation pattern shall be as per the Plantation Species Matrix, which identifies suitable trees and shrub species for plantation. Please refer to Section 6.2 of scheme guidelines for details: http://nationalgreenhighways.org/downloads/Guidelines-for-Green-Highways-Project.pdf.
Plantation and allied activities under Green Highways Projects will require a large manual workforce. This will generate livelihood opportunities for semi/unskilled workers. As such, the project is estimated to create sustained employment for 1 lakh people in the next 10 years.
The plantation projects under Green Highways Project will be monitored for effective implementation by the Project Implementation Unit (PIU)/Regional Office (RO). They will conduct sampling review and field visits for verification of survival, growth, size and maintenance compliance of plantation in their respective regions. They will also submit progress report of every plantation project on the 3rd of every month to the National Green Highways Mission team.