India's Focus on Green Infrastructure: Sustainable Construction and Progress

The Union government, led by Nitin Gadkari, is placing a strong emphasis on sustainable construction models and practices as part of its broader push for infrastructure growth in India. Speaking at the Mint Sustainability Summit 2023 in New Delhi on August 23, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways highlighted the government's commitment to environmentally friendly road and highway construction. This approach goes beyond the transition to green mobility and aims to safeguard the ecology.

Gadkari proudly stated that since 2014, India has added approximately 86,000 km to its national highway network. As of now, the country possesses the second-largest national highway network in the world, spanning over 1.46 lakh km, surpassed only by the United States.

To underscore the commitment to sustainability, Gadkari noted the incorporation of innovative materials in road construction, such as fly ash, rubberized bitumen, polymer-modified bitumen, and steel slack. He also highlighted the Green Highway Policy 2015, which has led to the planting of about 3.8 crore trees along national highways.

The government's dedication to ecological preservation is further exemplified by its intention to establish a special contractor for the transplantation of trees. This proactive step aims to protect the environment while accommodating road development. Gadkari also reiterated his advocacy for the use of eco-friendly fuels such as ethanol, methanol, bio-diesel, and bio-CNG to promote sustainable mobility.

Addressing road safety, Gadkari introduced the use of bamboo crash barriers along highways as a pioneering initiative. He cited a successful case of installing bamboo crash barriers on a section of the Vani-Warora highway in Maharashtra. This step not only contributes to safety but also offers an alternative to steel, addressing environmental concerns.

Gadkari detailed another vital policy shift – the requirement for a minimum of 25% precast components in national highways, expressways, and centrally sponsored infrastructure projects. This move is expected to yield savings in terms of both cost and time while ensuring the utilization of high-quality raw materials.

The minister's vision extends to infrastructure development in the national capital, with a focus on making roads dust-free and enhancing overall road conditions. He unveiled the ₹65,000-crore 'Delhi Decongestion Plan,' already making significant progress, with future projects lined up. The strategy encompasses 16 projects, including the nearly completed Dwarka Expressway.

Gadkari's declarations come in response to a recent controversy over a CAG report highlighting cost overruns in the construction of the Dwarka Expressway. The minister unequivocally denied any wrongdoing or corruption, reiterating his commitment to transparency, timeliness, quality, and integrity in all endeavors.

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