NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday cleared the ongoing projects under the government’s ambitious Chardham development plan, which proposes to provide all-weather connectivity to the four holy towns of Uttarakhand. The apex court, however, said the stay on stalled projects under the plan would remain in force till further orders. The towns of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath will be connected with all-weather roads as part of the plan.
A non-governmental organisation Green Doon had moved the court against the project saying the project would cause major damage to the state’s ecology and drew parallels with the impact of the ten hydro power projects on the region.
On November 26, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to explain why it should not stay the National Green Tribunal’s order approving the projects. On Friday, a Bench of justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre to submit an affidavit on why the tribunal’s order should not be stayed and set up a panel to monitor the matter.
According to the petitioner, the 900-km project was being undertaken without an environmental impact assessment. It cited the 2013 floods in the state as a cautionary tale against major projects of this nature. The Environment Ministry had earlier informed the NGT that it had received no proposal for environmental clearance for the project and hence the question of an environment impact assessment (EIA) study of such a project did not arise.
The ministry also said that under the 2006 EIA notification, only new national highways and expansion of highways over 100 km needed to get prior environmental clearance.