The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has categorically stated that only four national highway projects under public-private partnership are awaiting formal environment clearance during the current year.

The minister, however, said that environment clearance for these projects had already been recommended by the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The four NH projects are on the Goa-Karnataka and Jharkhand-West Bengal borders, and in Rajasthan and Odisha (see table).

Announcing this in the Rajya Sabha recently, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Tushar A. Chaudhary said that no projects in PPP mode were awaiting environment clearance for any of the previous years.

Road Project_Highway Projects_ProjectsMonitorBeing private funded projects, the question of time and cost escalations or any recovery on these accounts did not arise, Chaudhary said, adding that the environment ministry had resolved most of the bottlenecks like requirement of special exemption or no objection certificate under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 in respect of strengthening and widening of the national highway projects, specifically pertaining to diversion of protected forest land under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

Besides, the environment ministry has also delinked the grant of environment clearance from forest clearance for linear projects and treated the strengthening and widening of national highway projects under infrastructure sector differently from new projects, thus allowing their construction in non-forest areas. Accordingly, the process for obtaining environment and forest clearance had been relaxed significantly for all existing and future road projects, the minister added.

PPP Road Projects Awaiting Environment Clearance
No.
Project
Status
1 CRZ and environment clearance for widening and rehabilitation of existing carriageway to 4/6 laning of Goa-Karnataka border-Kundapur section of NH-66 (formerly NH-17) in Karnataka. Recommended by EAC*
2 Widening and improvement of existing two-lane to four-lane of Mahulia (km 277.500 of NH-33) ending at Kharagpur (km 129.600 of NH-06) in Jharkhand and West Bengal. Recommended by EAC
3 Rehabilitation and upgradation of existing carriageway of Rajasthan border (km 0.000) to Fatehpur-Salasar (km 154.141) section of NH-65 in Rajasthan. Recommended by EAC
4 Rehabilitation and upgradation of existing two-lane to four-lane of Birmitrapur-Barkot-Palhara section from km 211.500 to km 337.300 of NH-23 in Odisha. Recommended by EAC

Meanwhile, 17 road projects in various parts of the country are awaiting forest clearance.


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