Hearing a plea by an NGO objecting to widening of roads in the Char Dham highway project, the Supreme Court said soldiers cannot be moved to areas with high limits. The Center has told the Supreme Court that the Army needs wide roads due to difficulties in the Char Dham Highway project leading to the Chinese border.
The strategic 900 km long Char Dham Highway project aims to provide all-weather connectivity to four cities of Uttarakhand (Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath).
The Defense Ministry has filed an application to withdraw an earlier order in which the court had held that the width should not exceed 5.5 metres.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the NGO, said, “The army has never said we want these wide roads. Someone high in political power said we want highways on the Char Dham Yatra. The army reluctantly went along with them. Went.”
Gonsalves said there have been massive landslides this year, adding to the damage in the mountains. He said, “The highway was developed for the prestigious Char Dham project. When these roads were being constructed the army was not considered. Now you cannot justify roads for Char Dham Yatra, That’s why you use the army as an excuse.”
Justice Surya Kant asked Gonsalves whether he had any report on the situation in the Himalayas on the other side of the border where the Chinese have constructed buildings and establishments. “The Chinese government is not known for protecting the environment. We will try and see if we can get a report on the situation there,” Gonsalves said.
A high-powered committee constituted on the orders of the Supreme Court is monitoring the Char Dham highway project on widening of roads up to the India-China border in Uttarakhand.