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Green cover along highways: NGT slams NHAI

Green cover along highways: NGT slams NHAI

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal Thursday pulled the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for not filing an affidavit on compliance of its directions on maintaining mandatory green cover along national and state highways saying the attitude of government body shows lack of respect for the rule of law.

"We find that the attitude of the NHAI is defiant and shows lack of respect for the rule of law."Neither any response has been furnished nor there is any appearance on its behalf. This makes out a case for coercive action, including issuance of warrants for production of the erring Officer, however, by way of indulgence, we give last opportunity to the NHAI to file a proper affidavit within one month from today," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said.

The bench, also comprising Justice Sheo Kumar Singh, said the compliance affidavit filed by Ministry of Environment and Forests states that it has issued instructions to the NHAI for taking necessary steps on maintaining mandatory green cover, however, NHAI has not filed any affidavit.

"National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited ( NHIDCL ) has given some particulars about some of the North Eastern States. The particulars furnished are quite inadequate," the bench said.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Traditions and Promotion of National Awareness seeking execution of the September 5, 2017 order of the NGT where the NHAI had assured the tribunal that it would follow the Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy, 2015 in true spirit and substance.

The plea said that the tribunal had directed the Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan to ensure plantation on government land which are adjacent to the national highway and state highways but no action has been taken by them.

In a detailed order, the NGT had directed the state governments and all local authorities to encourage plantation in public parks and other places wherever it is possible to plant additional trees to ensure better environment and provide greater protection to the ambient air quality prevailing in that area.

"The state governments and all local authorities shall also issue directions to all group housing societies, commercial plots and land that is allotted by the state government for any office, residential block, that they would plant trees along their boundaries and raise green belts around buildings," the tribunal had said.

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