Char Dham Road: NGT Obstructs the Government for Releasing Filth into the Rivers.

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Char Dham Road: NGT Obstructs the Government for Releasing Filth into the Rivers.

On Tuesday, the National Green Tribunal of India requested the centre for a detailed statement regarding the status of the sub – project which is underway on the 900 km of Char Dham road project. They have also requested the centre to explain the necessary action that they have taken regarding obtaining an environmental clearance for the project.

chardham yatra road project

After hearing the explanation and arguments of the additional solicitor general (ASG), the NGT bench proposed to outline and specify in particular the river catchments under which these road projects are falling. The petitioner’s views were presented by Atmaram NS Nadkarni (representing the ministry of transport and highways) along with advocate Sanjay Parikh.

The centre argued that the overall road expansion works are uninterrupted and divided with the help of 16 bypasses which do not require clearance. This had been mentioned since according to the EIA notification of 2006, prior environmental clearance is only needed in case of a new national highway or if the highway is being expanded for over 100km. However the petitioner has declared some unfair play, saying that the char Dham road project has been intentionally divided into small stretches aiming for an exemption from EC.

Tuesday was the day when the bench interrogated the centre saying that the centre had mentioned that due to the geography and terrain of the area, two tunnels will be constructed along with the protection of the landslide zones and the building of 16 bypasses. The bench claims that this massive activity requires an undoubted EC.

They also brought up the government for releasing and dumping filth into the river making it polluted. The bench also added that the releasing of muck should be completely constrained. They mentioned that they have witnessed photos and videos of these pollutants crossing the retaining walls of the project, which will pose a problem the moment it starts raining. The bench also added while posting this argument for May 28th the fact that they are stopping themselves from passing an order. Videos of filth being dumped into the river have also been submitted to the NGT in the form of evidences by petitioners. Green doon and Ors citizens was presented to the engineers who were available there during the hearing.

A written submission was made by Nadkarni and was focused on during his arguments. This written submission mentioned that the char dham project is of national importance and to regard the fact that all these are border areas. He also claimed that the idea of dividing up the whole project into different part was done with an aim to expedite the construction.

The submission which was presented on Tuesday read – in a hypothetical case the ministry had used up their 90 km length of the project every year in any leg and presented it as one single project, it would not have paid attention to the EIA. By doing so, the completion of this entire 889km, which could have been done in 10 years that would have potentially taken a time of 12 to 15 years to complete it, however, if it is taken up all at once in small packages, it could be completed in just 4 to 5 year’s time.

Nadkarni also added the fact that the government may consider to apply for EC regarding their future projects which were yet to be included in the char dham road. Parikh’s argument to this was that “you have slashed down an upwards of 25,000 trees in the extremely ecologically sensitive Himalayas, which was carried out without obtaining EC.” He also mentioned to look at the damage that has been created and will there be no compensation for this activity? And if there is no compensation for the damage that is done then they are left with nothing to do in this situation.

The submission given by Nadkarni stated that 75 percent of the tree falling has been done and the remaining 25 percent of balance work is getting delayed which was caused due to a stay order on tree falling which was imposed by NGT. Nadkarni mentioned that there are 480 project sites which involves 155ha of land where the construction of the retaining wall is taking place to contain the filth.

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