Barely two years after the Central Government unveiled the National Green Highways Mission in 2015, Karnataka has proposed to plant saplings at 5 metre intervals on both sides of its 114 State Highways. Explaining the proposal, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest, Ecology & Environment Department) TM Vijay Bhaskar told The Times of India that the government plans to allocate 1% of highway development costs to the planting of saplings.

 

This would be done on both existing highways and new routes. The respective road contractors are being entrusted with the task of planting and maintaining the saplings. The 14 National Highways and 114 State Highways in Karnataka have a total length of approximately 28,311 KM.

 

When it unveiled the Green Highways Mission under the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the Centre had noted that the initiative was aimed at reducing carbon emissions by up to 35% by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels). As it would cover nearly 4 lakh acres, the project would also provide employment for around 1 lakh people for the next 10 years.

 

In addition to the obvious benefits in reducing air pollution, the improved tree cover will also aid driving at night by reducing “glare” generated by the use of high-beam headlights. Accidents caused by drivers being incapacitated by glare are a major problem in India: a study in 2016 found that nearly 90,000 accidents occur yearly in India because of glare-related issues.