However, the apex court ruled that forest clearances will be necessary for stretches that fall under forested areas.
Also, the delinking of clearances is valid only for road-widening projects. Most of the work being done in the road sector includes upgrading or widening of road projects from two to four or four to six lanes.
About 24 projects, which have been cleared by the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), will now get the final clearance. After the EAC nod, the proposals will go to the Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, who will finally clear or reject the environment clearance to these projects.
The case pertains to the Supreme Court's July 6, 2011 judgement, when it had permitted French cement-maker Lafarge to resume limestone mining in Meghalaya to feed its $255-million cement plant in Bangladesh. The apex court had also stated that both - forest clearance and environment clearance - are needed to start any construction or mining activity.
Based on this judgement, the environment ministry notified that any environment clearance without forest clearance is invalid. However, NHAI moved the Supreme Court to challenge the notification. Later, when it withdrew its petition, MoEF filed a petition seeking review of the link between the two clearances.
Earlier this year, GMR had terminated its contract with NHAI for the Rs.7,500 crore-Ahmedabad-Kishangarh-Udaipur highway project citing delays in environmental and forest clearances.