On Tuesday, the Supreme Court directed that under the 2018 circular of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) the width of hilly and mountainous terrains for the Char Dham Highway Project should be constructed.
The current situation concerning the ecosystem and fragility of the mountain terrains was considered and it was ordered that the width of the road should remain 5.5 meters by Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha, and Indira Banerjee. The Supreme Court constituted a High Power Committee that was constituted in August 2019 which submitted a report in July 2020 according to which standards prescribed in a circular from 2012 were recommended by 13 members while the Chairman included in the other 5 members were in favor of 2018 circular.
A width of 5.5 meters for the intermediate lane configuration along with two-lane structures for National Highways in hilly and mountainous terrains was prescribed in the 2018 circular. It was only a minority view of the Committee that the 2018 circular should be complied with was said by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. He urged that the width of carriage should be 7 meters instead of 5.5 meters because the road covers India-China Border so the region sees the movement of Army vehicles.
Justice Nariman refused to accept the above submission and said that 2018 circular will alone apply. He said that the decision was taken keeping in mind the fragility of the ecosystem in mountain terrain. Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh said to the court of the devastation caused to mountains because of violations of directions by authorities. The Apex Court said that plantation should be taken up in right earnest and they were sure their orders would be followed.
Four States of Uttarakhand including Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath would be connected by Char Dham Project which is 900 KM. The name of the case is Citizens for Green Doon & others vs Union Of India & others.