SC CLEARS ‘CHARDHAM’ HIGHWAY PROJECT
What’s in news?
Supreme Court has cleared the decks for the Chardham highway project, by modifying an NGT order to constitute a fresh committee to look into environmental concerns.
- NGO Citizen for Green Doon had petitioned the apex court, after the National Green Tribunal on September 26 last year gave its conditional approval to the connectivity project in view of larger public interest, saying the project would cause an irreversible damage to regional ecology.
- The NGT had constituted a committee headed by a former Uttarakhand High Court Judge to monitor the project.
- Supreme court ordered the Ministry of Environment and Forest to form the high-powered committee (HPC) by August 22.
- Supreme court added representatives from Physical Research Laboratory under the government’s Department of Space, Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, MoEF (from Dehradun regional office) and Defence Ministry to the HPC.
- The committee to submit its recommendations within four months.
- It will identify the sites where quarrying has started and recommend measures required to stabilise the area and for safe disposal of muck.
- It will also assess the environmental degradation — loss of forest lands, trees, green cover, water resources etc. — on the wildlife and will direct mitigation measures.
- The HPC will also suggest the areas in which afforestation should be taken and the kind of saplings to be planted.
Char Dham project:
- It is a flagship project of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- The project involves developing and widening 900-km of national highways connecting the holy Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri at an estimated cost of Rs.12,000 crores.
- The highway will be called Char Dham Mahamarg (Char Dham Highway) and the highway construction project will be called as Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana (Char Dham Highway Development Project).
- The roads will be widened from 12m to 24m and the project will involve construction of tunnels, bypasses, bridges, subways and viaducts.
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