NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has given its nod to the government's ambitious Char Dham Highway project. Under the project, a 900 km long highway will be built to connect four holy religious cities of Uttarakhand in all seasons. The apex court has ordered the setting up of a new high-powered committee to look into environmental aspects by changing the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
A bench headed by Justice Rohington F Nariman directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to set up the committee by August 22. Earlier, the NGT had set up a committee headed by a former Uttarakhand High Court judge to oversee the project. The NGO Citizens for Green Doon had moved the Supreme Court after the NGT's September 26 order last year. The NGT had approved the project in view of the larger public interest.
The NGO claims that the project will not compensate for the ecological losses of the region. The court-appointed a representative of the Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun in the high-powered committee, a representative of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests at Dehradun, a representative of the physical research laboratory from the Space Department of the Central Government at Ahmedabad, The Ministry of Defence has been asked to include a representation on border road matters. The court asked the committee to submit its report to the court within four months. The government has been protesting against the project by environmentalists.