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Uttarakhand

Posted at: Aug 18, 2017, 12:49 AM; last updated: Aug 18, 2017, 12:49 AM (IST)

Char Dham all-weather road gets green clearance

Neena Sharma

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, August 17

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has given clearance to 370 km (5 hectare) all-weather Char Dham road network in Uttarakhand. The project envisages an 889 km all-weather road network covering eight districts in the state to be built at a cost of Rs 12,000 crore in two years.

“ In all, 10 (from five places in Uttarakhand) proposals have been cleared by the Ministry and we are hopeful that the work on the prestigious project will start soon,” said Om Prakash, Additional Chief Secretary, PWD.

In early August this year, the Union Minister for Highways, Nitin Gadkari, had urged the officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and other ministries to speed up the work. 

Uttarakhand PWD officials claim around 40 per cent of the land acquisition work is complete and the remaining work is expected to be completed in the coming months. The Central Government has already kept 2019 as the deadline for completing the entire project. 

The all-weather char Dham road network was inaugurated by Prime minister Narendra Modi in 2016. In the project, there is construction of  two tunnels, 15 flyovers, 13 alignments at the landslide zone, 25 large bridges and 18 passenger service centres and 13 bypass.

“The existing road network in the Chardham area of Uttarakhand and towns had been constructed along the river valley and close to big rivers like Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi. However, this alignment is most vulnerable to floods, landslides and subsidence. These roads are lifeline of the people of the Garhwal division. These roads are also very strategic because of the China border,” said Om Prakash. 

Significantly, the project also entails felling of trees in several areas including, the Narendranagar forest division. According to one estimate, around 30,000 trees comprising of deodhar and spruce falling under the dense forest area are expected to be felled during the completion of the project. However, the Uttarakhand Government is of the opinion that the costs in the form of human safety far outweigh the losses in the form of felling of trees.

“The Department of Forest undertakes plantation drive every year, their target is between one lakh trees to two lakh trees, we think this tempo will be maintained in these areas as well,” said Chief Secretary S Ramaswamy. 

Further, as the project is being funded by the Central Government, the Uttarakhand Government will benefit from the payment of GST calculated on the total cost of the project, which comes to around 12 per cent of the total cost of the project. 

Project deadline: 2019 

Uttarakhand PWD officials claim around 40 per cent of the land acquisition work is complete and the remaining work is expected to be completed in the coming months. The Central Government has already kept 2019 as the deadline for completing the entire project. In early August this year, the Union Minister for Highways, Nitin Gadkari, had urged the officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and other ministries to speed up the work.

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