Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a notice to both the Central and Uttarakhand government. It was in reply to a plea regarding the indiscriminate dumping of muck from the Chardham Road project into the river.
Headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the bench has directed the Union Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, Ministry of Environment and Uttarakhand government to submit their replies by the next date of hearing, i.e. by August 26.
On December 27, 2016 PM Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the Chardham Highway Development Project. This 900 km project that includes redevelopment of the Char Dham route has bypassed EIA’s legal requirements.
But all the construction and road widening work is being carried out by violating environmental laws. In a hurry to meet the deadline of the project in 2019, the government hasn’t explored other options that could reduce the amount of destruction caused to the environment. This ₹12,000 crore highway development project seeks to ease connectivity between Chardham shrines in Uttarakhand.
But rampant uprooting and chopping of 25,000 trees in hill slopes till now have increased the risk of landslides. And during monsoon, it could also result in huge blockage on this highway. Muck dumped on the side of roads is also leading to blockage of streams and passages which could lead to a big disaster in the near future.
Many proposals and plans are being made by the committee formed after the 2013 floods, but the question is will they ever be implemented or are we inching towards one more tragedy in Devbhoomi Uttarakhand?