Environmental Costs of the Rs 12,000 Crore Char Dham Highway

On 27 December 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the ambitious Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Paryojna, a Rs 12,000 crore highway-development project that seeks to ease connectivity between the Char Dham shrines in Uttarakhand.

The project was setup to widen existing roads and make the entire 900km stretch immune to the vagaries of weather in the ecologically sensitive and geologically unstable Garhwal hills. But the landmark initiative has run into controversies, with questions being raised on methods of hill-cutting and unnecessary felling of trees.

Some argue that roads are a major component in the redevelopment of Uttarakhand, which suffered extensive damage in the flash-floods of 2013. Amid environmental concerns over the building of roads that are key to the hill-state’s economic growth, The Quint spoke to experts on how to mountainous roads can be constructed without harming the ecological balance of the region.

How Not To Construct Mountain Roads?

We spoke to Professor RC Sharma, head of the department of Environmental Sciences at Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, to understand how the government’s big ticket development project in Uttarakhand is being implemented.

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