A landscape policy has been drafted for the first time to protect national and regional highways from damage and prevent road accidents.
The policy will help all concerned including Forest Department and Local Government Engineering Department choose proper plants for planting along the roadside, considering road safety and beautification.
Official sources said the draft of the landscape policy has already been finalised and it will be submitted to the cabinet for approval within a week or two.
"We are giving the final touches to the policy for placing it in the cabinet meeting soon," said an official involved in formulating the policy.
He said the policy has been drafted following a directive from the prime minister and the authorities concerned have completed all procedures to finalise the draft.
According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges and Roads and Highways Department, the draft landscape policy was finalised after consultation with all stakeholders and posted on the website for comments.
Officials said several inter-ministerial meetings were held to incorporate all issues in the policy aiming to protect more than 22,000-km road network of RHD and other agencies, and utilize them properly.
RHD now follows a manual of roadside plantation to plant a good number of trees every year in its two divisions of Dhaka and Rajshahi under the arboriculture wing.
Chief of Arboriculture Wing Awal Mollah told the FE that due to lack of proper guidelines, many unsuitable timber plants were planted on both sides of the roads which causes damage to roads or cause accidents due to fall of tree branches and trunks in a storm.
Citing examples of importing foreign trees lime Acacia trees which have proven bad for the environment, the executive engineer said this policy will help all concerned choose proper roadside plants.
A ministry official, however, said they feel the need for a policy guideline as the country has already built more than 350 new widening national highways where beautification is necessary with proper plants.
While moving on Dhaka-Chattogram highway, Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga expressway and Dhaka-Mymensingh highway, the FE correspondent found that some flower plants like Krishnachura and bougainvillea have been planted to cherish the commuters with flowers.
Additional Chief Engineer of RHD Technical Wing Dr Mamun ur Rashid told the FE over phone that the policy will also bring discipline in plantation and afforestation programmes in the country which are being carried out haphazardly by Forest Department and some non-governmental organisations in the name of afforestation.
He also said it will guide them to plant at least three trees in case of fall of one big tree. Sources in Arboriculture Wing said RHD plants trees on average 200-km road every year through contracts, but most of them die due to lack of proper care
In the fiscal year 2018-19, RHD had planted trees on 118-km road under a project in Rajshahi zone. There was not any plantation during the last fiscal year. In the current fiscal, no tender has yet been called due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Engineer Mamun said the policy has guideline to carry out the maintenance work of the roadside landscape on a public-private partnership basis.
After getting the approval for the policy, he said, RHD will formulate rules to bring discipline in the landscaping which the country inherited from the history.