An exit, and a dire warning


Ravi Chopra, chairman of a Supreme Court (SC)-mandated High Powered Committee (HPC) fashioned to supervise street widening within the Char Dham Highway Development Project (CDHDP) in Uttarakhand, has written to the highest court docket that he desires to resign. In his letter, the environmentalist mentions the apex court docket’s December 14 judgment, which permitted the Center to extend the width of the roads within the mission for nationwide safety causes, says the decision confined the HPC’s position to the implementation of its suggestions on two non- Defense roads, and complains that HPC’s suggestions had been ignored by the Union ministry of street transport and highways (MoRTH).

The 900-km CHDDP, a flagship mission of the Union authorities, has courted controversy because it was launched. Initially, the 12,000-crore street was billed as one required for offering all-weather entry to the 4 pilgrimage cities in Uttarakhand. But after environmentalists, geologists, local weather scientists, and civil society voiced objections in regards to the mission and the defective environmental clearance course of, CDHDP garnered assist from the ministry of defence. The ministry moved an attraction within the SC in November, searching for “a double-lane road having a carriageway width of 7m (or 7.5m in case there is a raised curb)” with 8-10m formation width to “meet the requirement of the Army”. CHDDP at all times had a strategic angle, however with the attraction, nationwide safety turned the only driver for the mission.

While the stability between the surroundings and safety is essential, the fragility of the area can’t be discounted, particularly when excessive climate occasions are on the rise. A wider street means further slope slicing, blasting, tunnelling, dumping, and deforestation — all of which is able to additional destabilize the Himalayan terrain, and improve vulnerability to landslides and flash floods. This was noticeable over the last monsoon season when many roads had been destroyed. The state and the area want sustainable improvement, which calls for approaches, as Mr Chopra mentions on this letter, which are geologically and ecologically sound. Such improvement additionally will increase catastrophe resilience, and helps in nationwide safety, which requires roads that aren’t landslide-prone. Mr Chopra ends his letter with a warning: “Nature… neither forgets nor forgives such willful wrongs inflicted on her treasures”. Remember this whereas enterprise initiatives that danger upsetting the ecological stability.

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