The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to pay a fine of Rs 2 crore for not following its environmental obligations while constructing an eight-lane highway from Mukarba Chowk to Singhu border, Delhi.
The NHAI did not take dust control measures despite the generation of dust, as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ Green Highways Policy 2015.
The fine amount should be deposited with the principal chief conservator of forests, Haryana, within one month and used for restoration measures in the area, the tribunal said.
NHAI must also take remedial measures for dust mitigation during the construction and operation phases, and an action plan must be prepared within a month and executed within three months after approval by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the director of the environment, Delhi.
A joint committee of the CPCB had filed a report stating that NHAI had violated the clearance conditions by not carrying out plantations despite land availability and not taking dust mitigation measures at the project site, exposing adjacent villagers to dust.
The tribunal held NHAI accountable for the violations, based on the polluter pays principle, even if the violations were committed by its officers or contractors.
What is Green Highways, Policy, 2015?
The Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification, and Maintenance) Policy is a policy introduced by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India in 2015.
The policy aims to promote the development of eco-friendly and sustainable national highways across the country by planting trees, developing green cover, and undertaking beautification and maintenance measures along the highways.
Under this policy, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and state government agencies are responsible for planting and maintaining trees along highways, as well as undertaking landscaping and beautification activities.
The policy also encourages the transplantation of trees that may need to be removed during highway construction or widening, rather than just cutting them down.
The Green Highways Policy, 2015, also aims to promote social forestry, create employment opportunities for local communities, and reduce carbon emissions.
The policy is seen as a step towards sustainable development and aims to make India’s highways greener, more beautiful, and more environmentally friendly.
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