Removing highway encroachments in Haryana an uphill task for NHAI
Removing encroachments along the national highways in the state seems to be an uphill task for the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) even as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued directions in this regard.
The NGT had directed the NHAI that the area along both sides of the highways should be used to maintain the green cover.
According to a report submitted by the NHAI, most encroachments were reported on NH 10, NH 44 and NH 73 in Panipat, Rohtak, Yamunanagar and Hisar districts.
The NHAI found 236 encroachments on the 58km stretch along the Rohtak-Hisar national highway in the NCR, followed by 153 encroachments on Delhi-Ambala NH 44 and 80 encroachments were reported on Yamunanagar-Barwala-Panchkula NH 73. These encroachments were in violation of Section 15 of the NGT Act, 2010, which ensures mandatory green cover on both sides of highways.
Most encroachments, including roadside dhabas, hotels, restaurants, shops, tea-stalls, even residential, commercial and religious buildings, are permanent and have been present for past several years. However, as per the report, the NHAI has mentioned that a task force has been created for the removal of encroachments and is actively working on it.
In its December 3 orders, the principal bench of the NGT led by chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel had observed that steps taken for the maintenance of green belts on both sides of the highways and for removing encroachments were not adequate in absence of effective institutional mechanism to monitor compliance of such norms. The NGT had asked the NHAI to file further affidavit giving complete information about the extent of encroachment on national highways, action plan for removal of such encroachments, extent of plantations before the next date of hearing, which is fixed as February 28, 2020.
“Information should also be provided in a cumulative manner on quarterly basis for last one year on state-wise numbers and extent of encroachments, and those removed in the quarter for last one year,” the bench had observed.
The NGT had directed the ministry of environment, forest and climate change to make an effective monitoring mechanism for ensuring the maintenance of green belts on both sides of all highways for controlling air pollution.
Meanwhile, the NHAI officials seem reluctant to comment on why the NHAI failed to remove the encroachments along the national highways in compliance of NGT orders.
Vishal Gupta, chief general manager, NHAI (Chandigarh region) said, “Our project directors have taken up the issue with concerned district administrations. We need to talk to the project directors regarding the action being taken to remove the encroachments. If required, we will take up the issue with the state government.”
Yogesh Chandra, NHAI project director (Ambala) said, “We will take action in compliance of the NGT orders as per the procedure.”