The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued show-cause notice to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) asking why action should not be initiated against it for failing to maintain the mandatory green cover along national and state highways.
A bench headed by acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim sought responses from the NHAI, Ministry of Road Transport and the Environment Ministry, besides the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan.
"Issue notice in the nature of show cause to NHAI and the other to show cause why action should not be initiated in the nature of coercive action under the provisions of the NGT Act and the rules made thereunder for the non-compliance of the direction contained in the order dated September 5, 2017.
"If any steps have been taken,they are permitted to file status report supported with sufficient material in the nature of photographs as also work orders if any. This shall be done within a period of 15 days," the bench said.
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 20.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by the Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Traditions and Promotion of National Awareness, seeking execution of the NGT order of September 5, 2017 where the NHAI assured NGT that it would follow the Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy, 2015 in true spirit and substance.
The plea stated that the NGT had directed the Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan governments to ensure plantation on government land which are adjacent to the national highway and state highways but no action has been taken by them.
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 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.
The Indian road network of 33 lakh km is the world’s second largest and stretches to about 96,000 km of national highways, which constitutes only 1.7 per cent of the road network but carries about 40 per cent of the total road traffic.
(With inputs from agencies)