Govt can’t violate its 2018 circular in Chardham project: SC

New Delhi, Sep 8 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to comply with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ 2018 circular while constructing the Chardham highway project, which provides all-weather connectivity to the four holy towns of Uttarakhand.

The Centre had argued the project covers the India-China border and expansion of roads is necessary for the movement of army vehicles.

A bench headed by Justice R.F. Nariman asked the Centre to carry out plantation to compensate loss of the forest area due to construction. According to the 2018 circular, the intermediate carriageway of 5.5 metres tarred surface, with a two-lane structures, is to be adopted for hilly terrain. The Centre has sought the top court’s permission to make it 7 metres, but the court declines to grant permission, saying that the government cannot violate its own circular.

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“How can you not go by your own guidelines?” the bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing the petitioner NGO, contended that authorities concerned have violated several directions, which has caused devastation in fragile Himalayas and if seen, it could bring tears in the eyes.

Four towns — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath — in the hilly state would be connected by the ambitious all-weather 900-km highway project. The bench said the authority needs to follow the 2018 guidelines.

Mehta contended that there are some issues in connection with the road width, and the high-powered committee has submitted its report. He submitted that the minority view of the committee said that as per 2018 circular, the intermediate carriageway width should be 5.5 metres for hilly terrain. He cited that the project covers India-China border area and if there were movement of Army vehicles, then the intermediate carriage width should be 7 metres.

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Parikh argued that felling of trees in the area due to the project is a serious concern.

The bench replied that the narrow issue is about the 2018 guidelines and emphasized appropriate plantation be done there by the authorities.

The top court in August last year had paved the way for the Chardham highway project by modifying a National Green Tribunal order to constitute a high-powered committee to examine environmental concerns, and assess the cumulative and independent impact of the Chardham project on the entire Himalayan valley.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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