ISLAMABAD – National Highway Authority (NHA) is committed to building environment-friendly roads while integrating environmental, economic and community goals into the planning, design, construction and operation of national highways.
To shape this commitment into reality, the Environment Section has been formed at the NHA headquarters to take care of environmental aspects of highways. Main tasks performed by this section include screening of projects according to Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, hiring of consultant to prepare environment impact assessment, preparation of terms of reference for consultants, a NHA official Sunday said.
According to detail, the section is also responsible for review of initial environmental examination report and environment impact assessment, it also coordinates with Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and International Financial Institutions and Agencies for approval and organizes and conducts public hearing and does processing of progress reports Conduct-environmental audits. It also prepare due diligence reports and environmental grievances redressal.
Environmental Management System at different stages is as follows. At the planning stage the environmental cell does initial Environmental Impact Assessment at the conception of project and selection of road alignment having minimum environmental and social consequences. A comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment study is carried out for selected alignment and environmental mitigation cost is included in PC-1.
At construction stage Site Specific Environmental Management and Monitoring Plans are formulated and implemented by the environmental section and Environmental Site Inspections performance monitoring are also done.
The section also organizes environmental audits at the end of construction stage and monitoring reports are prepared and submitted to concerned quarters.
At the execution stage, traffic safety signboards are placed by tree plantation is done by the NHA environmental cell; highways and motorway police is deputed. There is system of taxes and penalties in case environmental pollution.
At present, the NHA is implementing a large number of projects with the assistance International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Islamic development Bank, which are subject to the IFI’s Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies.
Some of the exemplary projects with respect to Environmental Management in NHA are E-35 and M-4.
The NHA is determined to carry out forestation across highways and motorways. In this regard approximately 5.3 million trees/ plants have been planted in the right of way and in medians along motorways and highways for beautification, landscaping and to control environment pollution since 1993 to 2017.
Recently, FWO in collaboration with NHA has planted 300,000 plants on Islamabad-Lahore Motorway.