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410 km Chardham road widened to 10 meters | India News

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NEW DELHI: The road transport and highways ministry has completed the widening of 410 km stretch of the Chardham road project to 10 meters, which is nearly 65% of the 642 km of works that have been awarded till now. The hill cutting has been completed on 537 km for building such a uniform wide road on this network.
Government sources said now following the Supreme Court direction, the court appointed high-powered committee (HPC) will look into the submission of the defence and road transport ministries to maintain the uniform two-lane (7 meter) width of the entire corridor taking into consideration the defence requirements and safety of road users.
The HPC headed by environmentalist Ravi Chopra had vertically split into two over the issue of road width and two separate reports were submitted by the groups of members in June this year as it was first reported in TOI. While the majority of the members had supported the government’s argument for widening the road to 10 meter, the minority members had recommended that the road width should not be more than 5.5 meters, which is also called intermediary lane.
The minority members had referred to a 2018 circular of the road transport ministry which had said the road width in hills should not be more than 5.5 meters. The members had accused the ministry of not disclosing this circular for long when the issue of road width came up for discussion.
“Since the last order of the Supreme Court there has been no tree cutting. We will abide by the court order strictly,” said a Central government official.
Meanwhile, in an affidavit, the road transport ministry has told the Supreme Court that the March 2018 circular on the road width in hill areas is “general in nature” based on PUC traffic and is applicable to all the hilly states.
“The same did not have in mind the strategic requirement of movement of military vehicles with heavy equipment especially in the Himalayan region leading to international borders, line of actual control and as well as roads identified as economic corridors,” the affidavit said.
It also said some of the strategic roads were being maintained by the Border Road Organisation (BRO) even before the commencement of the Chardham road project. “The aforesaid circular of 2018, thus, doesn’t take into consideration the Himalayan region in Uttarakhand and the strategic importance of roads/ highways in the aforesaid region from the perspective of defence and security. “Therefore, while formulating Chardham Pariyojna, the aforesaid circular was specifically not made applicable to the said pariyojna,” the ministry said in its affidavit.

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