In a big boost to highways expansion in the country, the cabinet Thursday cleared a proposal that will allow the construction of highways of up to 100-km length and 40-m width without seeking an environment clearance.
So far, environment was mandatory for building any highway stretch that was over 30-km long and more than 20 metre wide. This norm had resulted in humongous delays with over two dozen projects getting stuck.
Senior road ministry officials said that the cabinet’s decision will rev up highways expansion which has hit a snail’s pace over the last one year because of delays in getting various clearances.
“Because of relaxation of norms, now almost 70 % of the highway projects won’t require environment clearance. It will automatically expedite expansion work,” said a senior ministry official.
The cabinet has also waived off mandatory environment clearance that was so far required for procuring soil from up to 2 metre depth and from an area which is less than two hectare in length. Soil is required for levelling of roads during construction and embankments.
As of now, soil was categorised as “minor mineral” and environment clearance was required for procuring it.
This had resulted in shortage of soil for earthwork which had affected road construction. Many states had written to the highways ministry to lift the ban.