Roads Projects
Decks have been cleared for highway projects worth Rs 27,000cr with the Supreme Court ruling that environmental approvals may be delinked from forest clearances. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had been unable to proceed on 20 projects spanning 2,700 kms of new highways because of delays in getting such clearances. Scores of the projects have been stuck for over two years, but the Supreme Court decision means work can begin almost immediately, NHAI sources said, adding that the environment and forests ministry will issue formal orders in this connection very shortly.

It may be recalled that NHAI and the road ministry have been struggling to find takers for highway projects of 8,800 km planned for this year thanks to delays in approvals. While less than 10% of that target had been met in the first 11 months of 2012-13, leading infrastructure players like GVK and GMR have walked out of highway projects worth around Rs. 11,000cr, citing delays in obtaining environment clearances. The National Highways Authority of India had moved Supreme Court on in the beginning of this year to delink environment clearances from forest clearances because of the impact it was having on getting projects off the ground as well as awarding new projects. NHAI had also filed applications before the apex court to get exemption from no-objection certificates (NOC) under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, essential to use forest land for non-forestry activities.