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Magic of modern technology to render Chardham road safe

The Chardham all-weather road project being implemented in the geologically volatile Uttarakhand Himalaya will be based on the concept of sustainable roads

dehradun Updated: Jun 08, 2018 21:53 IST
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Chardham, comprising the four Himalyan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri, attracts lakhs of pilgrims from across the country annually.(HT File Photo)

The Chardham all-weather road project being implemented in the geologically volatile Uttarakhand Himalaya will be based on the concept of sustainable roads.

Once ready, the road will remain open throughout the year for visitors to enjoy safe and quick journey without being obstructed by natural calamities, officials said.

They attribute the possibility of the disaster prone Chardham transforming into a safe destination to the “magic of modern technologies” being leveraged to implement the ₹11, 700 project announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, four years after cataclysmic floods hit the Chardham in 2013 leaving thousands dead.

A religious destination of Hindus, the Chardham comprising the four Himalyan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri attracts lakhs of pilgrims from across the country annually.

“We are employing world’s best available state-of-the-art technologies so that the road network being laid in the geologically volatile mountain region is sustainable and remains open even during natural disasters, be it the cataclysmic flash floods, landslides or earthquakes,” said Hari Om Sharma, chief engineer, National Highway, Public Works Department (PWD), Dehradun.

Sharma said earthquake resistant technology was being used in implementing all components of the Chardham all-weather road project.

Giving an example, he said, single span bridges are being built so that they can withstand the impact of seismic events.

Besides, rock anchoring technology is being used to treat chronic landslide zones which are part of 38 ‘Pre-identified Problematic Points’ that frequently disrupt traffic on the Chardham route.

As part of the rock anchoring technology, slide zones are sealed with cement slurry, which is injected 8-10 metres deep into the loose area through pressure pump injections.

For widening of hill roads slopes are “cut at 70-80 degrees instead of 90 degrees, which provides cut slopes additional” stability.

Besides, toe-protection of fragile slopes is carried out by “putting up gabion walls or retaining walls made of stacked stone-filled boxes tied together with wire mesh of galvanised iron.”

Flyovers have also been planned to ensure an uninterrupted flow of traffic through all chronic slide zones and flood-prone areas. Two crucial tunnels and a network of bypasses will also be built, which will “help shorten the distance on the Chardham route besides facilitating a smooth traffic” even during heavy snowfall.

Environmental activists have, however, strongly opposed the Chardham project alleging that it has posed a severe threat to the hill ecology.

“Some three lakh trees will be felled in the name of widening of roads, which has posed a severe threat to environment,” alleged Sureshbhai, a coordinator of the ‘Save River Campaign’, a group of some 150 non-governmental organisations.

“Besides, a vast amount of muck generated owing to cutting of slopes being dumped on hill slopes is polluting rivers and damaging agriculture.”

Sharma rebutted the allegations stating that 44,000 trees will be felled for widening of roads and many times more saplings will be planted as part of compensatory afforestation.

Similarly, instead of explosives environment friendly rock cutters are being used for widening of roads. Besides, vast quantity of muck generated through slope cutting is dumped on the pre-sectioned 480 dumping zones only.

To “minimise” accidents two-lane roads with a 10-metre width are being aligned. “Besides, Thrie Beam Crash Barriers being put up along the roads will prevent vehicles from falling off into deep gorges.”

First Published: Jun 08, 2018 21:53 IST