Greening Highways

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G.L. KHAJURIA
Roads are lifeline arteries which carry the life blood of economy relating to trade and commerce to every nook and corner of the country. These also play a pivotal role in national integration by way of communication amongst various religions and shades.
According to the ministry of surface transport and highways, we are having a long stretch of around 4.50 million Km of road length. And the overall benefits accruing there from ripple out vast, varied ramification for progress and prosperity of the country as a whole.
Now, with the ever exploding population which we all know has crossed 1.35 billion next to china and the trafficways have correspondingly increased manifold face to face with urbanisation and industrialisation. And these in togetherness are Tanta mounting to ever-escalating pollution, temperature, dust and a combination of noxious gases namely carbon monoxide (CO) carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and emission of chloro-fluro-carbons (CFC’s) apart from the most hazardous halocarbons. These halocarbons originate from refrigeration and other cooling compound pollutants and are long persisting over hundreds and thousands of years, when once get released into the atmosphere.
The expansion of roads width on either side of highways has ruthlessly massacred over lacks of erstwhile plantations which way these have diminished the pristine well-established glory and grandeur of the highways which now are devoid of lush green vibrant tree cover across the country. Now, while travelling on these highways, we oftenly feel as something very vital m issing so much so that no shade insight where once a while we can aspire to have a short stop over. Doesn’t it jitter us when we are in travel-spree with family or friends?
It is, therefore, most pertinent to realise the changed scenario over a couple of years. And it is evidently very well before our eyes. And imagine the scenario elsewhere away from our sight, the overall forest cover (green gold) which is frizzling by the turn of the day. This is fundamentally tanta mounting to environmental degradation resultantly giving birth to multihued off shoots of problems.
Under this pernicious scenario, our highways demand top most attention for rejuvenation so that these become lively for beautification and glorification. It is as such becomes our moral and bounden duty to carry out mass campaign for gigantic plantation operation alongside highways so as to restore back erstwhile lost glory and beauty.
In forestry parlance, such plantations alongside highways are nomenclaturised as arboriculture or avenue plantation and people so participating or engaged are called arboriculturist. These plantations are also carried out alongside railway tracks, canals apart from urban metropolis where this has an independent department. The predominant objective being to cloth such areas with green cover ensuring greenery, beautification and slowing down temperature and averting pollution in its multitudinal manifestation.
The concept of such plantations is no new as over years the earlier rulers were very much enthusiastic and compassionate with this concept of plantations when we unfold the history.
During Ashoka’s regime, this concept was very much in vogue, as he carried out extensive/intensive afforestation’s alongside all avenue, other denuded areas. Similarly, Sher Shah Suri in 16th century carried out abundant plantation of ornamental, horticultural and shade bearing trees inter-mixed with flowering climbers, creepers and shrubs right from Mureshidabad (the then Bengal ) to Peshawar via Delhi and Lahore.
Similarly, the Mughals were very much enthusiastic and compassionate about the construction of new roads and supplementing these by carrying out plantation. Shahjahan brought Chinar from Iran and introduced in Kashmir and its vicinity. They carried forward this campaign on all available barren areas, preferably, roadsides and other road-linkages.
When we achieved independence, the spirit and sanctity of tree culture, plantation, promotion and propagation was still more invigorated. Our former Prime Ministers J.L. Nehru, L.B. Shastri apart from other prominent leaders and naturalist, environmentalists namely GB Pant, Dr. Rajinder Prasad, K.M. Munshi a footed large scale planting campaign. Nitin Gadkari, the union Minister for transport and highways convened a two-day meeting at Vishakhapatnam and consequently, a mega mission for greening highways was promulgated and this mission was nomenclaturised as ‘National Green highways Mission’ (NGHM). Under the mission, the Minister kick-started first ever massive National highway plantation campaign with a targeted budget of 300 cores to cover around 1500 Km of the first leg of 1,00,000 Km of highways.
Nitin Gadkari further emphasised that the Ministry of Road and highways (MORTH), Government of India endeavours the need and importance of developing green corridors along National highways, promulgating massive plantation, transportation, their progressive promotion and maintenance all through for glorification- cum-beautification of highways apart from generating jobs and employment on larger scale.
According to NH AI, the Government contemplates to earmark an estimated amount arounding 5000 crores which works out around 1 per cent of roads construction amounting to 5 trillion ending year 2019 of this mission. This is synonymous with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in boosting rural economy. The funds as such are earmarked provide promotion and impulsive targeted greening highways mission, apart from opening up job-cum-employment avenues for around a million youth in broader spectrum.

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