SC Limits Width Of Char Dham Road, Ecologists Say Move Will Save Thousands Of Trees

by Sidharth Pandey 1 year ago Views 4829

SC Limits Width Of Char Dham Road, Ecologists Say
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central Government to ensure that the width of the Char Dham road is limited to 5.5 meters in the hilly terrain and not 7 meters as was being suggested by the Government. The Top Court also drew Centre's attention to its own circular issued in 2018 by the Ministry of Road and Surface Transport (MORTH) that the road width would be limited to 5.5 meters in the mountainous terrain.

Environmentalists have hailed the Supreme Court’s order which they say will help protect at least part of the area which has not been damaged by the massive road project. "70% of the work has been done and more than six lakh trees have been destroyed in this project," Dr SP Sati with the Uttrakhand University told GoNews. She added that "proper study was done before the project of such a size was launched, at least now we can try and save what’s left".

The Char Dham road project, Modi government's pet project, was launched in December 2016 which aims to create and strengthen more than 880 kilometres of all-weather roads linking four important ‘Dhams’ or the religiously important Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. All the sites are in the Himalayas and highly seismically activity prone. Several scientists and environmentalists have warned that such a massive road project will damage the ecologically fragile area and also increase the threat from landslides.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in September 2018 given conditional clearance to the Char Dham road project citing larger public interest but had set strict conditions to limit and mitigate the environmental damage. This included proper monitoring and ensuring that the debris from the cutting of the mountain for expanding the width of the road is dumped only at proper dumping sites and not over the side of the mountain. However, there have been several instances where the contractors working on the project have been found flouting norms.

"The SC today reiterated the fact that the High-powered committee will ensure monitoring of the project. With this order by the top court, the government has to realise that it cannot take arbitrary actions and ignore the orders of the Supreme court," noted environmental Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Parikh who had argued the case in court told GoNews.

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