The tribunal also summoned state government officials at its next hearing on Thursday after environmentalists alleged that contractors were dumping thousands of tonnes of excavated earth on slopes along the Ganges near Gangotri. They also alleged the road widening project will also result in cutting down of more than 5700 trees, many of them 200-year-old Deodar trees.
Environmentalists say that the poor execution of the project by contractors, and lazy supervision by the state government was destroying the vegetation on slopes and at places, could also end up damming the river.
The Centre, which has often been accused of overlooking environmental concerns in the past, also informed the tribunal that they too weren’t impressed with the state government’s zonal plan and had rejected the plan. The state government will have to come up with a better plan on the lines recommended by the Centre to make the grade.
PM Modi had laid the foundation stone for the highway to the state’s four religious sites to enable pilgrims to travel to these places including Kedarnath, Gangotri, Badrinath and Yamnotri through the year. It was on this occasion that he had pledged to drag the state out of the “bottomless pit of corruption” in which the state was languishing. The target then was the Congress regime in the state that was voted out in the last round of assembly elections.
The Char Dham highway project involves building tunnels, viaducts, bridges and bypasses in the entire state, along with way-side amenities that will include helipad for emergency evacuation and parking facilities, among others.