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Green Express Highways in India: Paving the Way for Sustainable Transportation

Green Express Highways

Revolutionizing Road Travel

May 03, 2024

India, with its vast road network, has been actively working toward sustainable transportation solutions. One significant initiative in this direction is the development of Green Express Highways. These highways not only connect cities and towns but also prioritize environmental conservation and community participation. Let’s delve into the key aspects of these green corridors.


What Are Green Express Highways?

Green Express Highways are a part of the broader Green Highways Policy, launched by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India. The policy aims to promote greening, beautification, and maintenance of highway corridors across the country. Here are some essential features:


  • Community Participation: The concept encourages collaboration between various stakeholders, including farmers, private sector entities, NGOs, and government institutions. By involving local communities, it ensures that everyone contributes to the greening efforts.


  • Financial Allocation: To fund highway plantation and maintenance, 1% of the total project cost for all green express highway projects is set aside. This amounts to approximately Rs. 1000 crore per year. The policy generates employment opportunities for around five lakh people from rural areas1.


  • Monitoring Mechanism: The implementation of the policy is closely monitored using advanced technologies like ISRO’s Bhuvan and GAGAN satellite systems. Every planted tree is counted, and auditing ensures transparency. Agencies performing well receive awards.


  • Roadside Amenities: In addition to greening, the policy aims to establish 1200 roadside amenities. These facilities enhance traveller comfort and contribute to a pollution-free environment.

Green Express Highways


The Need for Green Express Highways

India's transportation sector is at a crossroads. On one hand, there's a growing demand for faster and smoother connectivity to support economic activities and improve quality of life. On the other hand, there's increasing awareness about the environmental toll of conventional transportation infrastructure, including air and noise pollution, habitat destruction, and carbon emissions.


In this scenario, green field highways offer a pragmatic solution. By integrating sustainable design principles, innovative technologies, and eco-friendly practices, these expressways aim to minimize their environmental footprint while maximizing efficiency and safety.


Environmental Impact

  • Air Pollution Reduction: By planting trees and shrubs along highways, Green Express Highways significantly reduce air pollution and dust. The green cover acts as a natural filter, improving air quality for both travellers and nearby communities.


  • Biodiversity Enhancement: The planted trees provide habitat for birds, insects, and other wildlife. They also contribute to the overall ecological balance.


  • Mitigating Road Accidents: The presence of greenery along highways can help reduce the number of road accidents. It provides a buffer zone, absorbs noise, and prevents glare from headlights.


Green Express Highways


22 Green Field Highways

As part of the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (NMP), the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has made significant progress in improving multi-modal connectivity and last-mile connectivity across the country.

  • The ministry plans to develop 22 Green Field Highways as part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana and other schemes.


  • These expressways are designed to be 12-lane wide, with an initial construction of 8 lanes. The maximum speed is set at 120 km/h for all types of vehicles.


  • Land for a 4-lane future expansion is reserved in the center of these expressways.


  • Green Field Highways follow standards set by the Indian Roads Congress and the Bureau of Indian Standards.


  • They are strategically designed to avoid inhabited areas, opting for new alignments to bring development to previously underserved regions and reduce land acquisition costs and construction timelines.

Green Field Highways


Major Green Field Highways Under Construction:

  1. Delhi–Mumbai Expressway: This ambitious project aims to cover the 1300-km distance between Delhi and Mumbai. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.


  1. Ahmedabad–Dholera Expressway: Connecting Ahmedabad to the upcoming Dholera Smart City, this expressway will enhance connectivity and economic growth.
  2. Delhi–Amritsar–Katra Expressway: Linking Delhi, Amritsar, and Katra, this corridor will improve travel efficiency and tourism.


  1. Bengaluru–Chennai Expressway: Connecting two major southern cities, this green express highway will boost regional connectivity.


  1. Ambala–Kotputli Expressway: Enhancing connectivity between Ambala and Kotputli, this project aims to reduce travel time.


  1. Amritsar–Bhatinda–Jamnagar Expressway: Connecting Amritsar, Bhatinda, and Jamnagar, this corridor will facilitate trade and commerce.


  1. Raipur–VZG Expressway and Hyderabad–VZG Expressway: These expressways will improve connectivity in central and southern India.


  1. UER II (Urban Extension Road II): A strategic urban expressway project in Delhi.


  1. Chennai–Salem Expressway and Chittor–Thatchur Expressway: These corridors will enhance connectivity in Tamil Nadu.

green express highway

Other Key Infrastructure Projects:

Apart from expressways, the ministry is actively working on various other infrastructure projects, including the Zojila Tunnel in Ladakh, roads to connect Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh, a major bridge over Middle Strait Creek in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and more.


Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs):

The ministry is also implementing 35 MMLP projects identified for development under the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase I.


According to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, the government is building multiple green express highway projects totaling 10,000 km across the nation at a cost of Rs 4.5 lakh crore on Monday. The Bharatmala Pariyojana is in charge of building the road network, according to the minister of roads, transportation, and highways.


According to him, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has raised more than Rs 70,000 crore through a variety of funding methods, and it would use this money to construct highway projects.


green express highway


The Bharatmala Pariyojna, a plan to create 65,000 km of highways nationwide, was conceived by the government. There are 34,800 km in the phase 1 road network. "We are building 10,000 km of green express highway at a cost of Rs 4.5 lakh crore," the speaker declared at an IIM Kozhikode seminar on the "Management Development Programme on Infrastructure Financing."


The minister claims that the length of India's National Highway (NH) network has grown, going from 91,000 km in 2014 to around 1.45 lakh km at this time.

Gadkari went on to say that the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan and the National Infrastructure Pipeline had significantly boosted the economy.

Because these new infrastructure projects will connect the nation's outlying locations, they will save time and money while ensuring integrated and holistic growth throughout the nation.

"The secret to investing in infrastructure is asset monetization. Within the national monetization pipeline, NHAI holds a 27% share. In reality, we are investigating a number of monetization strategies for national highway assets, including project-based financing and ToT InVIT," the minister stated.


NHAI has produced around Rs 70,000 crore through creative funding methods. The ToT (toll-operate-transfer) model raised about Rs 26,000 crore, the NHAI InVIT (National Highways Infra Trust) raised about Rs 10,000 crore, and the SPV securitization method raised about Rs 34,000 crore.


In summary, green express highways in India are pivotal for efficient transportation, economic growth, and regional development. These projects reflect the nation’s commitment to modern infrastructure and connectivity.

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