“Yes, there is an opportunity for NGOs, self help groups and communities to make money, because we believe that you cannot preach a philosophy to anyone on empty stomach. But please remember that your earnings will depend on the survival of the trees planted by you,” -Nitin Gadkari/ Union Transport Minister
New Delhi : Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari has unveiled a new policy for green highways making it mandatory to set aside 1 per cent of the total project cost towards the corpus of a “Green Fund” for plantation.
“With an annual outlay of Rs.100,000 crores for such projects for the next five years, we should at least have Rs 5,000 crores for this project,” said Gadkari at an event to launch the policy that would be put into action through the participation of a vast range of stakeholders. More than 1500 delegates from different sectors attended the event. “Yes, there is an opportunity for NGOs, self help groups and communities to make money, because we believe that you cannot preach a philosophy to anyone on empty stomach. But please remember that your earnings will depend on the survival of the trees planted by you,” the minister said while stressing that the monitoring of such projects will be done through satellite technology. At its core, the Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy, aims to create about 5 lakh rural jobs and harness the local resources as well dovetail the greening programme with the natural climatic and environmental conditions.
Stressing that there is no conflict between road development projects and the preservation of environment, Gadkari said that as far as possible the emphasis would be on transplanting trees instead of simply cutting these down.
“We now have the technological ability to transplant trees, and though the technology is not hundred percent successful, it does reduce the number of trees that have to be cut down,” he observed adding that these experiments have been successful in Gujarat.
With the idea of encouraging quality work under this scheme, Gadkari also announced state and national levels awards for the top three agencies doing exemplary plantation work.
“These would be felicitated on the World Environment Day on June 5 every year, with cash prizes and citations,” he added while asserting that the non-serious entities should stay away from it as these would come to grief because the government would follow the policy of rewarding the performers and penalising the non-performers.
The minister also said that all expressways and access-controlled highways, including Delhi-Katra, Nagpur-Mumbai would now be built as green highways.” Though we are responsible only for the national highways, we would also urge the state governments to follow the same approach,” he added.