Green tribunal issues notice to Uttarakhand government on all-weather road project
Giving a jolt to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious all-weather road project, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday summoned the state environment secretary on Thursday asking him to explain what they were doing on muck disposal.
The green tribunal’s summon came on a day when Modi was in Kedarnath to attend the portal opening ceremony. Kedarnath is one of the Char Dham that witnessed wide destruction during the June 2013 floods.
According to the report, the green tribunal raised objections on the complaint on muck collection and axing trees in the name of widening of the 268-km long road leading to Gangotri.
The road has to be widened up to 12 metre under the National Highway Connectivity Improvement Programme for Char Dham. The programme includes construction of roads leading to the four Dham - Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri.
Modi had laid the foundation stone of the all-weather road project worth Rs11,700 crore in Dehradun on December 27 – days before the assembly elections were announced.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had made the project a major election issue.
Under the plan, work like widening of narrow roads, protection of landslide hazard zones, construction of bypasses, bridges, tunnels and elevated corridors has to be undertaken on the Char Dham route.
Uttarakhand chief secretary S Ramaswamy also holds the charge of principal secretary (environment). As per NGT orders, he has to appear in the personal capacity before the green tribunal on Thursday.
Ramaswamy was not immideately available for comment.
One of the officials told HT that it was obligatory to submit muck disposal proposal before starting work on road projects.
Government’s spokesperson and cabinet minister Madan Kaushik said the government will look into the NGT’s objections.
“All weather road project is an ambitious work. We understand there will be objections owing to environment reasons but we will do our best to follow the guidelines” Kaushik told HT.
The Congress had never been in favour of the project owing to political reasons. Then chief minister Harish Rawat had vehemently said the project posed as “if condition of the existing road network in the fabled religious circuit and elsewhere in the state was abysmally bad.”