Suresh Prabhu wants the Railways to significantly reduce its carbon footprint and lower emissions in all its operations. The Railway Minister, who is pursuing a PhD in Climate Change and advises the Prime Minister on related issues, has directed his ministry to create a “special cell” to deal with environmental matters.
The special cell would look into matters related to green clearance, environment friendly technologies, environmental impacts of rail operations and other such issues, Rail Bhawan sources said.
This is the first time that all matters regarding environment would be brought under one umbrella for better monitoring and prompt decision-making. “Emissions should go down, plantation of trees on railway land should be encouraged and quality of water being discharged should be as per norms,” Prabhu is learnt to have told Railway officials. The minister also wants renewable energy sources to become a “focus area” of the national transporter.
The plan includes works at railway production units, new projects and train operations. The Railway Board is learnt to have commissioned the task of developing a blueprint for the special cell.
The new government is working on ways to clear 28 rail projects across India, which have been held up for years for want of green clearances at various stages.
The 28 projects, mostly of laying new lines, gauge conversion and doubling works, have been facing problems related to proximity to national parks and reserve forests. These projects are in states such as Assam Bihar and West Bengal.