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Environmental Issues related to Road infrastructure sector
Dec 09, 2013

The projects related to roads and associated rehabilitation works have varying levels of impacts on the surrounding environment – on natural and planted forests, on lands with agricultural, cultural and other socioeconomic and religious values, and to an extent on factors wildlife and wildlife habitats, particularly those located outside the designated protected areas such as National Parks and Sanctuaries.

Some issues are discussed below:

  • Diversion of Forest Lands : It is envisaged that engineering designs largely maintain road widening. Construction works will involve removing trees and in specified locations for workers camps, temporal connecting roads, temporary storage sheds for construction materials, temporal diversion of routes, etc. Depending on expanse of contiguous area cleared, forest loss could affect soil characteristics and soil stability increasing dust pollution and potential erosion. 

  • Uptake of Agricultural Lands : In addition to uptake of forest lands, fertile agricultural lands could also be diverted. This may put pressure on less arable lands and could lead to environmental degradation of the area along with food insecurity.

  • Impact on Wildlife : When project roads traverse close to natural forest reserves and wildlife sanctuaries construction process could increase noise levels, cause affect migration paths, impact availability and access to food especially for obligate herbivores and carnivorous faunal species. In corridors where surface water bodies usually used as watering holes by wildlife are affected, dependent wildlife will be affected.

    Habitat destruction may have hazardous effect on the wildlife. Transportation and hauling of material and increased vehicular activity within the road corridor may introduce invasive species. Extraction of raw material for construction such as gravel, sand, etc outside designated locations could create further disturbance to the ecosystem by degrading habitat conditions. 

  • Extraction and Management of Input Materials : Road construction will involve use of materials such as aggregates, sand, earth and water and other chemical inputs including bitumen, Grease, oil, petrol, kerosene and other substance considered to hazardous to human health or the environment according to the Management Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals (MSIHC) Rules of India. Uncontrolled extraction practices such as river sand quarrying, water extraction from both underground and ground sources, earth excavation could result in decrement of water table level. Improper disposal of construction material waste could affect local water sources and agricultural lands with related health issues.

 


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