Char Dham pilgrimage
Context: Supreme Court has cleared decks for Chardham highway project, which will connect four holy places of Uttarakhand through 900 km all-weather roads.
What has the court said?
The court has directed Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to form high-powered committee by 22 August 2019 so as to look into environmental concerns.
- Representatives from Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Physical Research Laboratory under government’s space department and Ministry of Defence will be part of the new high powered committee.
- As per SC, committee shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measure after each review meeting.
- It shall consider cumulative and independent impact of Chardham project on entire Himalayan valleys.
- Committee will also suggest areas in which afforestation should be taken and kind of saplings to be planted.
What’s the issue?
The proposed four-lane expressway to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Bardinath in the hill state has been among the flagship projects of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
But the idea of the 900-kilometre road network in the sensitive mountains of Uttarakhand drew scepticism from environmental activists who fear the highways and the tourists they would bring in will be at the cost of the ecological balance.
About Chardham project:
- 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.