In a blow to the Green Highways Policy of Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, the Finance Ministry has rejected his proposal which mandates that developers invest 1 per cent of their total project cost in a corpus fund for roadside plantations.
The fund was expected to hold up to Rs.1,000 crore per year to provide a green canopy along highways.
"Social forestry stands allocated to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and not to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways," the Finance Ministry said in a communication to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways while clarifying its decision to reject the proposal.
"Also, that a Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) is in place at present which has accumulated funds of Rs 38,000 crore already," it said.
"As the activities of CAMPA are very closely related to what is being proposed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, establishment of a separate fund may result in overlap of responsibilities, besides unnecessary parking of funds when a large corpus is already available with CAMPA," it added.
Besides, CAMPA is administered by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.
The Finance Ministry noted that the government has already introduced a bill in parliament to create a fund in the Public Account and transfer the accumulated funds in this regard.
The "Green Highways (plantation, transplantation, beautification and maintenance) Policy, 2015" was released by Gadkari in September last year.
"This policy will generate employment opportunities for about five lakh people from rural areas," Gadkari said at the release ceremony here.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry had said the policy envisages greening of highway corridors with participation of farmers, private sector, non government organisations and government institutions.
The minister had elaborated that under the policy 1,200 roadside amenities will also be established.