New Delhi [India], December 2 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed a High Powered Committee to consider afresh in two weeks applications filed by the Defence Ministry and Road Transport and Highways Ministry seeking widening of roads in the border areas and completion of the Char Dham project in Uttarakhand with originally specified width of road.
This comes as the Chairman of the High Power Committee had in a minority report flagged the widening of roads under the Char Dham project, which touches sensitive borders with China.
A bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman asked the High Power Committee to submit a report before the apex court in the matter.
The Ministry of Defence, in its application, had said that given the present situation, quick movement of men and machinery would be paramount importance and require wide roads.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered the Centre to comply with 2018 circular of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) on the aspect of width of road while constructing Char Dham national highway. The bench had asked the Centre to do plantation activity to compensate loss of forest area due to construction.
Chardham Project is a project to widen nearly 900 kilometres of hill roads to improve access to pilgrimage spots in Uttarakhand.
As per MoRTH 2018 circular the intermediate carriageway of 5.5 meter tarred surface be adopted for hilly terrain. The Centre has sought top court permission to make it 7 meter but the court had refused saying that the government can not violate its own circular.
Recently, one report with the signatures of four members of the 26-member committee, including chairperson Ravi Chopra, an environmentalist and former director of the Dehradun-based People's Science Institute, had recommended that the Supreme Court take the final call on road width while suggesting an intermediate width of 5.5 metres. It had cited a circular issued by the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry in 2018.
The other report has the signatures of 21 members and suggests the government stick to the project's present design and roads all along the highway be expanded to double lanes as planned.
The government's own Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), had in March 2018, recommended against 'double laning and paved shoulders' in hilly terrain and recommended a narrower intermediate road width.
The Supreme Court had set up the High Powered Committee in August 2019 and mandated it to consider the ecological impact of the 900-km project, which the government has said will improve access to four Hindu pilgrim sites in Uttarakhand. (ANI)