The National Green Tribunal directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to develop an effective monitoring mechanism for controlling air pollution on the National Highways. NGT has declared that ensuring the maintenance of green belts on both sides of all the highways is mandatory. NGT directed this after they came across various reports and learned that removing encroachments were not adequate in the absence of an effective institutional mechanism to monitor compliance of such norms.
The NGT order said: "Accordingly we direct the Secretary MoEF & CC in collaboration with Secretary Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to evolve an effective monitoring mechanism at national level with the object of ensuring maintenance of green belts on both sides of all Highways up to specified distance, there is no construction up to specified distance, there is no direct access to the Highway, there is no encroachment and buildings on roadsides are regulated in terms of environmental norms so that no air/water pollution or encroachment of Highway is caused”.
The NGT order also said that the monitoring mechanism is likely to deal with the highways into defined parts. This includes, “future policy with regard to Highways to be constructed henceforth; policy with regard to Highways already constructed or in progress where space is available; policy with regard to highways where constructions have already been made with regard to division in nature of construction and legality thereof”.
The National Green Tribunal also directed the Environment Ministry to collect the requisite data in respect of National Highways from NHAI and in respect of State Highways from respective States and UTs. The order also said that the data can be compiled by the Chief Secretaries of States/UTs in coordination with their respective Environment, Forests, and Public Works Departments. The NGT has asked NHAI to file an affidavit about the extent of encroachment on National Highway.
As per NGT, the collected data should contain “details of extent of encroachment and action plan for its removal, provisions for leaving space up to a particular distance from the road for expansion and for plantation, extent of access directly allowed from Highway to buildings and ensuring that there is no direct access to the road obstructing existing or potential plantation and buildings near roads up to a specified distance are regulated to ensure that no air, water or other pollution is caused and no encroachment takes place or space on roads on account of activities of such buildings”.