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    Supreme Court takes suo motu note of Chardham Chairman’s letter

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    Supreme Court takes suo motu note of Chardham Chairman’s letter

    He conveys distress at Centre’s “wilful non-compliance” to fiat on building full-fledged roads


    A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File
      | Photo Credit:
    S. Subramanium


    He conveys distress at Centre’s “wilful non-compliance” to fiat on building full-fledged roads

    The Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognisance of a letter by Chardham High-Powered Committee (HPC) Chairman Ravi Chopra about the Centre’s “willful non-compliance” to comply with an apex court order against building full-fledged roads cutting across the fragile Himalayan slopes.

    The project includes developing highways in Uttarakhand to improve access to the four shrines — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath.

    On September 8, a Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman had ordered the Centre to adhere to a March 23, 2018 circular of the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and reduce the width of the roads to 5.5m from 12m. The court had ordered the Centre to plant trees in “right earnest” to recover the green cover ‘devastated’ by construction.

    When the Centre had argued that the 2018 circular would apply only for future projects and not the Chardham, the court had reminded it that Chardham was still an ‘ongoing’ project. The Justice Nariman Bench had observed that the 2018 circular would indeed apply for Chardham considering the “current situation” of the fragile mountain terrain.

    However, Mr. Chopra conveyed his distress at the Centre’s attitude in his letter on October 5.

    “Till date no plan or approach to bring the Chardham Pariyojana roads in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order of September 8 has been submitted,” Mr. Chopra wrote to the court.

    The case is likely to come up for hearing on October 26.

    Mr. Chopra said he had written to the MoRTH to comply with the court order, to suspend cutting of trees and provide the HPC with a copy of the Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (REIA) report submitted by the consultant. He had also sought a complete list of vulnerable slopes and muck dumps with work plans for their sustainable rehabilitation. He said all he got after several days was a draft report and an incomplete list of muck dumps dating back to May 11.

    He informed the court about news reports and photographs of fresh hill and tree cutting, and even notifications for toll plazas.

    He said he had received contradictory versions on the width of the roads being built, with one officer saying it would be 12m for areas where hill-cutting has already been done.

    He quoted news reports saying the MoRTH’s 2018 circular would be “applicable only to the proposed 13 projects where work had not yet begun”.

    The letter said the HPC was committed, despite pandemic conditions, to ensure that “safe and comfortable highways can be constructed without damage to the Himalayas”.

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    National
    (the headline, this story has not been published by Important India News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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