Expansion of road network always boosts the economy of a territory and sustainable development is a boon in the process.  It should support the economic growth, social progress and at the same time respect the environmental quality of the region. Construction of roads not only results in cutting of trees which are being declared protected by the UP Government, destroying water bodies and climatic change but also the pollution increase from plants required for construction – Hot-mix, Cement batching, and domestic waste of construction camps established for the project.

Network screening for Core Road Network is process which aims to identify important road links within the road system based on transport demand, infrastructure shortfall, connectivity, economic prioritization to enable safe and efficient road usage. As noted down in the ‘FINAL REPORT (Revision 1) Preparation of Strategic Road Network Master Plan for Uttar Pradesh, PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, WORLD BANK DIVISION, Government of Uttar Pradesh’; in the four scenarios proposed for the same; environment and social aspect has been given equal weightage in all of them to ensure sustainability. (Image1)

Assigned weights to parameters

Parameters Weightage

Source: FINAL REPORT (Revision 1) Preparation of Strategic Road Network Master Plan for Uttar Pradesh, PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, WORLD BANK DIVISION, Government of Uttar Pradesh

A report by government of Uttar Pradesh on environment mentions the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) whose objective is to mainstream environmental and social considerations with other project documents in the planning, execution and post-execution stages UP Core Road Network Development Project in order to ensure that environmental and social concerns are adequately taken care of. Under the guidance of ESMF Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environment Management Plan (EMP) shall be undertaken for each road under Phase 1. (Phase 1 includes Hamirpur-Rath Road, Garautha-Jhansi Road, Gola-Shahajahanpur Road and Badayun-Bilsi-Bijnaur Road).

All the available environmental information about the project road and its surrounding areas are proposed to be reviewed to anticipate the nature, extent, and timing of environmental issues which might arise in later stages and initiating steps to avoid them. The environmental concerns to be addressed in the EMP under the DPR preparation are:

  • Environmental Inventory (trees, forests, Wildlife Sanctuary/ National Park/ Tiger Reserves/ notified eco-sensitive zones, rivers/ water crossings, water bodies, wetlands, Grazing lands, Cultural properties, Utilities, Community facilities, Major junctions)
  • Detailed Surveys (geological/geotechnical studies, topographical surveys, Hydrological surveys in flood prone areas)
  • Identification of material sources (borrow material, quarry material, water availability, water bodies, stability of slope, soil erosion, land use changes, agricultural lands, cultural properties, drainage, trees, forest areas, natural habitat)
  • Precautionary measures during construction to avoid environmental impacts (top soil, construction sites, construction camps, borrow areas, quarry areas, Public/workers health & safety)
  • Consultations with community (land for borrowing, water for construction, site for construction camps, removal of trees, traffic during construction)
  • Finalization of alignment (concerns of community, environmental impacts identified, design aspects)
  • Preparation of detailed drawings (All concerns/impacts identified)
  • Monitoring of progress (all environmental aspects identified).

Environmental Concerns During Project Implementation –Road Projects shall be as follows:

  • Pre-construction activities (alignment marking, relocation of utilities, tree felling, clearance of land, diversion of forest land, transfer ownership, location of storage yards, labour camps, and construction sites, procurement of equipment and machinery, identification and selection of material sources, identification of designated locations of waste disposal)
  • Construction Activities (site clearance, planning traffic diversions and detours, material procurement, transport of materials to site, handling material at site, earthworks, sub-base & base courses, culverts and minor bridge works, surfacing, road furniture/signage, shoulder protection, enhancement, monitoring environmental conditions)
  • Post Construction Activities (clearing of construction camps, clearing of water channels/ side drains and culverts, rehabilitation of borrow areas)

Physical resources required to construct and maintain the roads calls for special attention here. Soil for forming road embankments is required in large quantities for constructing and widening roads. After borrowing the soil the borrow pits and its drainage must be managed. Since the natural outcrop of stones is rare in UP it can be substituted by soil stabilisation. Since bitumen, which is extracted from petroleum is likely to get scarce in upcoming years, cement can be used as a binder. NH-2 and NH-28 are modern cemented roads.

There are multiple projects being financed by the World Bank which are in compliance with their Environmental and Social safeguard policies to moderate or eradicate the adverse effects of development project. As for the UPCRNDP, the World Bank safeguard policies for environmental and social sustainability are:

  • Environment assessment (to ensure that the bank financed projects are environmentally sustainable)
  • Natural habitat (protection, maintenance and rehabilitation of natural habitat)
  • Forests (management, conservation and sustainable development of forest ecosystems and resources.)
  • Pest management (promote use of biological control methods)
  • Involuntary resettlement (assisting displaced person in improving their former living standards)
  • Indigenous people (protecting dignity and rights of indigenous people)
  • Physical/cultural resources (preservation of cultural, historical, religious identity of the community and the environmental uniqueness)

A lot of stress has been laid on the environmental issues under UPCRNDP. The total budget for the environment management plan for all four roads under phase 1 would be around INR 442.41 million. This includes tree plantation, budgetary provision, monitoring of pollution in both constructional and operational phrases as well as training the staff. At a stage where only 26.99 lakh km. of roads out of 48.65 lakh km. were surfaced in India till 2012 it is commendable to see that UP is working towards attaining sustainability.