On the lines of the central government’s National Green Highways Mission, the Karnataka government is set to initiate a planting drive along its state highways.
Manu Aiyappa Kanathanda reports for The Times of India that there are 14 national highways and 114 state highways with a total length of 28,311 km in Karnataka.
According to TM Vijayabhaskar, Additional chief secretary, forest and environment, the initiative is an attempt to develop eco-friendly roads. One per cent of the civil cost of highway development projects will be set aside to cover the cost of planting the saplings.
The road contractor who is entitled to sign a pact with the government to plant the saplings will also have to take care of the maintenance.
“The saplings which are over three years old have to be planted in every 5-metre gap on both sides. The plan is to grow eco-friendly trees in a particular area, depending on soil suitability, climate and availability,” the officer was quoted as saying.
This will enable the reduction of noise and air pollution and provide shade. A senior official from the public works department told ToI that the move will also prevent glare from headlights and also generate more employment.
The central government launched Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy in 2015, with an aim of making the country pollution free.
“The National Forest Policy mandate is for a forest cover of 33 per cent of the country’s land area. Currently, only 22 per cent is covered by forests. This difference can be met only through the planting of trees outside the forest areas,” Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways had said in 2015.