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No link between the Char Dham road expansion project in Uttarakhand and the rapid flooding, the government said. says in SC

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The court asked the government to submit a response within two weeks.

The government on Wednesday denied in the Supreme Court any link between the Char Dham road expansion project in Uttarakhand and the recent floods in the Rishi Ganga valley, which claimed many lives and damaged the Tapovan hydropower project.

The denial, before an Ornament led by Justice Rohinton Nariman, came from the government, represented by Attorney General KK Venugopal, in response to a communication from the chairman of the High Power Committee (HPC) Ravi Chopra linking the tragedy to the Char Dham project.

The court asked the government to submit a response within two weeks.

The 899 km long Char Dham highway project connects the four holy sites of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath in the Garhwal Himalayas

The project is under scrutiny by the Supreme Court after an NGO, Citizens for Green Doon, raised environmental concerns about cutting down trees and damaging the fragile Himalayan ecology by widening existing mountain roads. The high-power committee was formed to be the eyes and ears of the Supreme Court on the project. However, he had not been unanimous in his views.

In January, the government had backed a majority view within the committee favoring the need to expand the Himalayan food routes on the Indo-China border in order to facilitate troop movement.

The Ministry of Defense, in a statement to the court, had said that it was unfortunate that three of the HPC members gave a minority view to review a December 15, 2020 circular of the Ministry of Roads and Transport and Highways, e which regulated the carriageway the width of the supply routes to seven meters with a paved shoulder extending 1.5 meters on both sides.

The minority view had said the December 15 circular needed a rethinking given its long-term impacts on the fragile Himalayan terrain and vulnerable ecosystem.

The Center, in its oath, had said that it was unfortunate that HPC members, who were in the minority, had given such an opinion despite the security of the country and the need of the defense forces to resist the aggression of external potential.

An earlier government oath had said a two-lane road with a width of 7 to 7.5 meters was needed to meet Armys requirements. Heavy trucks carrying troops, equipment and weapons could not get stuck on blocked supply routes leading to a border going up to 385 km in Uttarakhand.

She had said the obstacles would delay deployment in emergency situations if the feeding routes were not developed according to the required standards. The military had used these roads after the 1962 war with China.

The oath declaration also referred to a recent confrontation with Nepal on the Lipulekh side in 2020, saying all of these sectors were very sensitive.

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