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    187 highway projects await forest clearance, union minister Nitin Gadkari takes stock

    187 highway projects await forest clearance, union minister Nitin Gadkari takes stock

    187 highway projects await forest clearance, union minister Nitin Gadkari takes stock
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    By Anu Sharma   IST (Updated)

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    A group of ministers led by union transport minister Nitin Gadkari held discussions on Tuesday on ways to fast-track pending infrastructure projects.

    A group of ministers led by union transport minister Nitin Gadkari held discussions on Tuesday on ways to fast-track pending infrastructure projects.
    The meeting was attended by union railways minister Piyush Goyal, union environment minister Prakash Javadekar, minister of state for road transport General (Retd) VK Singh and other officials from forest, railway and roads departments.
    In the meeting, it was noted that a total of 187 highway projects currently await forest clearance and many projects have not yet applied for Stage II forest clearance.
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    "The concerned officers were directed to initiate the process for the same immediately," the transport ministry said.
    As level crossings are often major accident spots, officials were directed to accelerate process of removal of such level crossings. It is important to note that while memorandums of understanding were signed over five years ago to clear these crossings with designs approved at 167 locations, the work has not started as yet.
    "In this direction, it was agreed to monitor the projects under Setubharatam programme on monthly basis," the government said.
    Union railways minister Piyush Goyal assured Gadkari for resolution of issues related to 30 pending road projects within two days.
    In addition, as ambiguities in inclusion of certain local breeds of shrubs and plants under definition of trees cause hindrances in approvals of several infrastructure projects, Gadkari has directed chairman Railways Board, Director General Forests and Director General Roads to hold monthly meeting to resolve issues.
    In this regard, the issues related to inclusion of Babool or Kikar, an exotic Arabian shrub, in the definition of trees was pointed out as is being witnessed by the Dwarka Expressway project of Delhi, which has 1,939 Babool shrubs in a total of 6,364 trees. Simultaneously, states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh do not cover this shrub in land revenue code as tree.
    Gadkari also requested environment minister Prakash Javadekar to set up more Special High Powered committees on forest issues as is being done in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh.
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