Gadkari chairs Group on Infrastructure meeting
New Delhi, Jul 7 : Union Minister for Road, Transport & Highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday chaired a Group on Infrastructure meeting here, wherein the issue pertaining to outstanding forest clearance for 187 highway projects was raised.
It was also noted that many projects had not yet applied for Stage II forest clearance. The concerned officers were directed to initiate the process for the same immediately.
Union Minister for Railways and Commerce Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Information & Broadcasting and Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Prakash Javadekar, and Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways Gen (Retd) V K Singh participated in the meeting.
Senior officers of the Ministries of Road Transport & Highways, Railways, Power, Environment and Forests, Railway Board, NHAI and representatives from the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka attended the same.
It was stressed in the meeting that the level crossings on National Highways need to be removed, as they constitute major accident spots. It was pointed out that while their designs had been approved at 167 locations, but the work has not yet started.
The MoUs were signed in this respect over five years ago, and there was need to improve performance. In this direction, it was agreed to monitor the projects under Setubharatam programme on monthly basis.
It was also underlined that 30 road projects were pending with the Railways. However, the Railways Minister assured to resolve these within two days.
A major issue before infrastructure projects is tree cutting, however, there are ambiguities over inclusion of certain local breeds of shrubs and plants in forest cover. An example of Babool or Kikar was presented in the meeting.
This being an exotic Arabian shrub, its inclusion in the definition of trees is causing hindrance, while considering forest clearance for several projects.
In Delhi, an ambitious project monitored by PMO, the Dwarka Expressway, is facing such 1939 Babool shrubs in a total of 6364 trees. It was pointed out that many states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh do not cover this shrub in land revenue code as tree.