NH Projects in Himalayan region, progress and environmental oversight

Nitin Gadkari
Nitin Gadkari

National Highways projects in the Himalayan region are strategically initiated to meet both traffic demands and strategic considerations. Before commencing any development work, a thorough Detailed Project Report is prepared, taking into account geological, geotechnical, hydrological, and topographical conditions of the challenging terrain.

The Chardham project is a notable initiative, focusing on improving five existing National Highways connecting pilgrimage sites—Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. It also includes the Tanakpur to Pithoragarh section of the Kailas-Mansarovar yatra, covering a total length of about 825 km. A significant portion of 606 km has already been completed.

To address environmental concerns, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) formed a High Powered Committee (HPC) in August 2019, following the Supreme Court’s directives. The HPC, consisting of representatives from reputable institutes, assesses the cumulative and independent impacts of the Chardham Projects on the entire Himalayan Valleys. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court established an “Oversight Committee” to monitor the implementation of HPC’s recommendations, especially for strategic roads like Rishikesh – Mana, Rishikesh – Gangotri, and Tanakpur – Pithoragarh.

Regular meetings ensure continuous scrutiny, integrating recommendations seamlessly during project execution. This approach aims to strike a balance between infrastructural development and environmental sustainability in the ecologically sensitive Himalayan region.

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