New Delhi: The government on Tuesday released the green highways policy, 2015, which mandates that developers invest one percent of their total project cost in a corpus fund for roadside plantations. The fund is expected to hold up to Rs.1,000 crore per year.
The policy -- "Green Highways (plantation, transplantation, beautification and maintenance) policy, 2015" -- was released by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Gadkari, who additionally holds the Shipping Ministry portfolio, said at the release conference here that, as per the policy, about Rs.1,000 crore per year will be available for plantation purpose.
"This policy will generate employment opportunities for about five lakh people from rural areas," the minister said.
The road transport and highways ministry said that the policy envisions to promote greening of highway corridors with participation of farmers, private sector, non government organisations (NGOs) and government institutions.
He elaborated that under the policy 1,200 road side amenities will also be established.
Gadkari added that: "There will be strong monitoring mechanism in place by using ISRO's (Indian Space Research Organisation) Bhuvan and Gagan satellite systems. Every planted tree will be counted and auditing will be done."
Minister of State (MoS) for Road Transport and Highways Pon. Radhakrishnan said the present government has taken various initiatives to cut pollution by promoting bio-fuel and e-rickshaws.
"Now the green highways policy has been launched for roadside plantation in this respect," Radhakrishnan said.
According to Vijay Chhibber, secretary, road transport and highways ministry, the policy can help in bridging the gap between the envisaged 33 percent forest cover over the country's total land area and the actual cover of only about 22 percent.
"The (policy's) emphasis is not only on the trees planted, but also on how many of them survive and are useful for the local communities," Chhibber said.
Over 1,500 delegates from all over India participated and deliberated upon various issues related to the development of green highways in the country.