The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has published its inaugural 'Sustainability Report for FY 2021–22,' showcasing its dedication to environmental sustainability and social responsibility, said the ministry in a statement on Monday.
The report, unveiled by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, encompasses NHAI's governance structure, stakeholder engagement, and initiatives related to the environment and social responsibility, it added.
NHAI's sustainability efforts have yielded positive results in terms of environmental and energy conservation. From FY 2019-20 to FY 2021-22, direct emissions decreased by 18.44 per cent and 9.49 per cent due to reduced fuel consumption. The organisation continues to focus on reducing indirect emissions by transitioning to cleaner and greener energy sources, said the statement.
The report highlights a decline in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy consumption, operations, transport, and travel. In FY 2020-21, there was a reduction of 9.7 per cent, followed by an additional two per cent decline in FY 2021-22.
NHAI has also achieved a substantial decrease in energy intensity, with a reduction of 37 per cent in FY 2020-21 and 27 per cent in FY 2021-22, while increasing the kilometres constructed during the reporting period.
The widespread adoption of electronic toll collection through FASTag, with over 97 per cent penetration, has also significantly contributed to reducing the carbon footprint.
NHAI has been actively using recycled materials for constructing national highways, including fly ash and plastic waste, for the past three years. The use of recycled asphalt (RAP) and recycled aggregates (RA) has also increased, said the statement.
In a concerted effort to protect wildlife and mitigate man-animal conflict, NHAI has constructed more than 100 wildlife crossings across 20 states in the last three years.
The report also emphasises NHAI's commitment to eco-friendly practices, such as planting saplings along national highways. The organisation has seen a significant increase in the number of saplings planted from 2016-17 to 2021-22, with approximately 27.4 million saplings planted to offset vehicle emissions.
NHAI has partnered with various stakeholders, including the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM), self-help groups, CSR partners, and NGOs, to organise plantation drives. In July 2022, NHAI conducted a nationwide plantation drive, planting around 110,000 plants in a single day at 114 identified locations across the country.
In addition to sustainable development, NHAI has made strides in creating inclusive and responsible work practices. Over the past three years, the organisation has witnessed an increase in women's employment and the employment of marginalised communities.
Through a performance-based management system, NHAI has successfully promoted gender diversity and minority employees, resulting in a 7.4 per cent increase in female hiring and an overall three per cent increase in the workforce over three financial years.