NHAI’s First ‘Sustainability Report’ captures initiatives taken for Environment Sustainability
Highlighting its commitment towards Environment sustainability, NHAI’s first ‘Sustainability Report for FY 2021-22’ covers NHAI’s governance structure, stakeholders, environment, and social responsibility initiatives. The report was recently released by Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways.
The Sustainability Report underlines the effectiveness of various efforts made by NHAI for environment and energy conservation. From FY 2019-20 till 2021-22 direct emissions were reduced by 18.44% and 9.49% due to less fuel consumption. NHAI continues to work towards reducing indirect emissions as well, by transiting towards clean and green energy sources.
Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions from energy consumption, operations, transport, and travel measured in Metric Tonnes CO2 equivalent /km constructed saw a decline of 9.7% in FY 2020-21 and 2% in FY 2021-22.
Similarly in operations, energy intensity in Giga Joules/km reduced by 37% in FY 2020-21 and 27% in FY 2021-22, while the kilometers constructed through the reporting period have risen steadily. With over 97 percent penetration, Electronic Toll Collection through FASTag has contributed to reducing the carbon footprint.
Apart from this, NHAI has been using recycled materials for National Highway construction. The use of fly ash and plastic waste in construction has increased over the last three years. NHAI has been encouraging the use of Recycled Asphalt (RAP) and Recycled Aggregates (RA) in National Highway construction.
To ensure sustainable environmental growth, more than 100 Wildlife Crossings were created in three years across 20 States as a measure of wildlife protection and conservation to reduce man-animal conflict.
Over the years, NHAI has been undertaking plantation drives to develop eco-friendly National Highways. There has been a significant increase in number of saplings planted from 2016-17 till 2021-22. Around 2.74 crore saplings were planted till 2021-22 to offset direct emissions from the vehicles.
NHAI has partnered with different stakeholders such as State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM), Self Help Groups, CSR partners, and NGOs to collaboratively organize plantation drives. In July 2022, NHAI organized a nationwide plantation drive and planted around 1.1 lakh plants in a single day through simultaneous plantations at 114 identified locations across the country.
In addition to sustainable development, the report also highlights NHAI’s commitment to creating inclusive and responsible work practices. Over the last three years, women’s employment and employment in marginalized communities at NHAI have increased. With a performance-based management system, NHAI has successfully promoted/encouraged women’s gender diversity and minority employees over the past 3 years with a steady increase in female hiring by 7.4 percent and a total increase of 3 percent in the overall workforce in three financial years.
NHAI’s Sustainability Report is not a mandated requirement as per SEBI guidelines, but this has been taken as a voluntary initiative to demonstrate its sustainability credentials and is prepared as per the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guidelines. The report has been externally assured by a third party adhering to International Standards on Assurance Engagements. This Sustainability Report will open new avenues for infrastructure financing known as ‘Green Finance’ as per the Ministry of Finance, Government of India framework.
NHAI has taken significant steps towards adopting sustainable and eco-friendly practices, including the use of renewable energy sources, promoting green highways, and adopting waste management practices. Going forward, NHAI remains committed to ensuring that its projects are not only economically viable but also socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.