PM-appointed panel to clear green hurdles to road projects

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 15 2014, 05:30am hrs
To ease bureaucratic hurdles hampering infrastructural growth, the PM-appointed ministerial committee on infrastructure has decided to clear outstanding issues involving railways and green clearances for road projects. According to sources, there are about 150 road projects worth over R50,000 crore which are stuck due to pending clearances from both railways and the environment ministry.

The first meeting of the committee took place on Tuesday evening.

It is understood that all the three ministers environment minister Prakash Javadekar , road and highway minister Nitin Gadkari and railways minister Sadananda Gowda decided that the environment ministry would soon delegate powers directly to the states and regional offices to give a green nod to linear projects involving forest land up to 40 hectares. Once this is done then the move is expected to ease almost 70 80% of `not-so-big' but strategic projects, at the state level itself without any interference from centre.

The MoEF also decided to consider proposals to allow state governments to give permission for mining of earth such as sand up to 20 hectares as against the existing norm of 5 hectares. This relaxation will eliminate one level of bureaucratic clearance and have a spiralling effect on saving time and increasing availability of this crucial raw material for road construction.

Government officials said the road ministry would soon put a formal proposal to MoEF to take sand out of the minor minerals list, because of which the subject is referred back from state to centre.

Officials said after the last round of meeting convened by PMO to streamline green clearances, these relaxations will add to the host of initiatives already undertaken by the green ministry.

Meanwhile, the National Board of Wild Life the apex body which takes a call on projects coming up around wild life sanctuaries and national parks also gave its approval to a number of roads and infrastructure projects which fall within 5-10 km of various sanctuaries.

The projects included the some road works for defence purposes including Indo-Bangladesh border fencing and Naxal-affected areas.

There would be further rounds of meeting of this committee where more projects are likely to be cleared.

Sources said railways agreed to do away with a host of charges and fees it collects for each rail over bridge (ROB) and rail under bridge (RUB) besides bringing greater transparency and efficiency to approve such structures.