Adhere to Ministry circular on roads in Char Dham: SC to Centre

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Centre to adhere to a Union Road Ministry circular of March 2018, which had advised against building full-fledged roads cutting across the fragile Himalayan slopes, while implementing the ₹12,000-crore ambitious Char Dham project for better connectivity to pilgrimage centres in Uttarakhand.

A Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman also directed the government to undertake re-afforestation of the area to make up for the loss of green cover caused by the construction.

The project had proposed the widening of single lane roads into double lanes by up to 10 metres, developing the highways and thereby improving access to the Char Dham (four shrines) — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedar Nath.

Environmentalist groups, led by the Dehradun-based Citizens for Green Doon, had moved the apex court after they failed in the National Green Tribunal.

The petitioners had contended that the project was proceeding without environmental clearances and the debris was being disposed haphazardly. Earlier, the NGT had found no need for an environmental clearance.

The petitioners had informed the apex court about the extensive excavation of the eco-sensitive landscape for the project.

They had contended that the project, which extends across nearly 900 km of hilly roads, was an environmental threat.

The government had said the programme for development of road connectivity was launched by the Prime Minister on December 27, 2016. It had said most of the project works were sanctioned before the issuance of the Ministry’s circular on March 23, 2018.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 11:58:32 AM |

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