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NHAI Releases 1st 'Sustainability Report' Highlighting Environment Conscious Initiatives

NHAI aims to ensure that its projects are not only economically viable but also socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.

Shivam Dwivedi
NHAI Releases 1st 'Sustainability Report' Highlighting Environment Conscious Initiatives (Photo Source: Nitin Gadkari/Twitter)
NHAI Releases 1st 'Sustainability Report' Highlighting Environment Conscious Initiatives (Photo Source: Nitin Gadkari/Twitter)

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) recently unveiled its inaugural Sustainability Report for the fiscal year 2021-22, reaffirming its dedication to environmental sustainability and responsible practices. The report, released by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, sheds light on NHAI's governance structure, stakeholders, and initiatives pertaining to environmental and social responsibility.

NHAI has made considerable efforts to promote environment and energy conservation, as reflected in the Sustainability Report. The organization has achieved a noteworthy reduction in direct emissions, with a decrease of 18.44% from FY 2019-20 to 2021-22, primarily attributed to reduced fuel consumption. Indirect emissions are also being targeted, with NHAI transitioning towards clean and green energy sources.

In terms of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, NHAI recorded a decline of 9.7% in FY 2020-21 and an additional 2% in FY 2021-22. These emissions, measured in Metric Tonnes CO2 equivalent per kilometer constructed, encompass energy consumption, operations, transport, and travel. NHAI's commitment to energy conservation is evident in the reduction of energy intensity in Giga Joules per kilometer, which decreased by 37% in FY 2020-21 and 27% in FY 2021-22, while simultaneously witnessing a steady increase in the kilometers constructed.

To contribute to the reduction of carbon footprint, NHAI has implemented Electronic Toll Collection through FASTag, achieving an impressive penetration rate of over 97%. Additionally, the organization has actively incorporated recycled materials in the construction of National Highways. The utilization of fly-ash and plastic waste has seen a substantial increase in the past three years. Recycled Asphalt (RAP) and Recycled Aggregates (RA) are also being promoted in NHAI's road construction projects.

Wildlife protection and conservation are critical aspects of NHAI's sustainable environmental growth strategy. Over the course of three years, NHAI has constructed more than 100 Wildlife Crossings across 20 states to reduce man-animal conflicts and ensure the preservation of biodiversity.

The promotion of eco-friendly National Highways through plantation drives has been another focus for NHAI. The number of saplings planted has significantly increased from 2016-17 to 2021-22, with approximately 2.74 crore saplings planted during this period to offset direct emissions from vehicles.

NHAI has partnered with various stakeholders, including the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM), Self Help Groups, corporate social responsibility (CSR) partners, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to organize collaborative plantation drives. Notably, in July 2022, NHAI organized a nationwide plantation drive, planting around 1.1 lakh plants in a single day across 114 identified locations throughout the country.

NHAI's commitment to inclusivity and responsible work practices is also highlighted in the report. Over the past three years, there has been an increase in the employment of women and marginalized communities at NHAI. Through a performance-based management system, NHAI has successfully encouraged gender diversity, resulting in a 7.4% increase in female hiring and an overall 3% increase in the total workforce over the past three financial years.

Although NHAI's Sustainability Report is not mandatory according to SEBI guidelines, the organization has voluntarily undertaken this initiative to showcase its sustainability credentials. The report adheres to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guidelines and has been externally assured by a third party following International Standards on Assurance Engagements. It is expected that this Sustainability Report will pave the way for 'Green Finance' infrastructure financing, as per the Ministry of Finance, Government of India framework. The complete report is available on NHAI's official website at https://shorturl.at/eowzP 

Looking ahead, NHAI remains steadfast in its commitment to adopting sustainable and eco-friendly practices. The organization will continue to prioritize the use of renewable energy sources, promote the development of green highways, and implement effective waste management practices.

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