Highlights

Recently Supreme Court (SC) has asked the committee which is monitoring the Char Dham National Highway project to take into account the applications from Ministry of Defence.

Application from Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence has submitted an application to the committee. In the application, ministry has asked to widen roads up to 7 metres at the Indo-China border within 2 weeks (14 days). According to the Ministry, a carriage way width of 7 metres is required to transport the tanks, troops, heavy vehicles, armaments and artillery. The Ministry has listed the roads that required to be  made suitable to quickly mobilize the heavy equipment. These roads are to be constructed under the Char dham project and will be connected with the LAC at the Indo-China border. These roads also connect the ITBPS.

ITPBS is Indo-Tibetan Border Police stations.

Backdrop

Supreme Court (SC) had asked the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on 8th September 2020 to follow the circular of 2018. The circular had asked to stick with the 5.5 metre carriageway width.

Char Dham Highway Project

The National Highway project provides all weather connectivity to the pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand namely, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri. The Highway Project was started at the cost of Rupees 12,000 crore. It is being implemented by Road Transport and Highways Ministry, BRO, USPWD and NHIDCL. It is being undertaken on Engineering, Procurement and Construction mode under which the cost of the project is entirely borne by Indian Government.

BRO is Border Roads Organisation

USPWD is Uttarakhand State Public Works Department

NHIDCL is National Highway & infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd

What is the Issue with Char Dham Project

The National Highway project is aimed at constructing the wider roads. These roads connect the key pilgrimage sites of the Uttarakhand state. However, the Char Dham project is surrounding with many controversies. Environmentalists raises concerns involving the hill cutting. They claim that hill cutting harms the mountain ecosystems. Environmentalists further see this against the violation of Supreme Court orders on the road width that required to be followed in mountainous regions. But, the Indian government deny this allegation. The environmentalists also raise the concern that, this project will affect the Bhagirathi Eco Sensitive Zone (BESZ). Chardham Highway Project issue Chardham Highway Project issue