Key cabinet ministers road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, railway minister Piyush Goyal, environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday reviewed infrastructure projects and raised concerns over pending forest clearance that has stuck 187 highway projects.
The meeting was chaired by Nitin Gadkari to review stuck infrastructure projects in the country. Senior officers of the highways, railways, power, environment and forests, railways and representatives from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka also attended the meeting.
“Many projects had not yet applied for stage II forest clearance. The concerned officers were directed to initiate the process for the same immediately,” an official statement said. There were also discussions on 20 road projects that have been pending with the railways, which the railway minister assured to resolve it within two days.
During the meeting, it was also discussed that tree cutting is a major issue for infrastructure projects and there are ambiguities over inclusion of some local breeds of shrubs and plants such as Babool or Kikar in forest cover.
“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 1,939 Babool shrubs in a total of 6,364 trees,” it said. However, states such as Madhya Pradesh do not consider them as trees, as per definition.
The officials also discussed level crossings on the 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 statement said.