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Opinion

The government’s own ministries are divided over the Char Dham road project, says SC

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On Wednesday, the Supreme Court noted that the central government’s own ministries were divided over the Char Dham highway project, and that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) alleged neglect of security concerns amid tensions throughout the border with Indochina.

The court noted that the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Road and Highway Transport (MoRTH) appear not to be on the same page about keeping the width of the roads leading to the border areas at 5.5 meters.

“It seems that their own ministries are not together. They don’t seem to be working with each other, ”one bank, led by Judge Rohinton F. Nariman, told Attorney General KK Venugopal.

The bank was referring to the latest affidavit from the Defense Ministry. The affidavit denounced that MoRTH circulars in 2012 and 2018 on the width of roads along national highways did not take into account the needs of security forces.

Although these circulars restricted the expansion of roads in mountainous and mountainous terrain based on the number of vehicles circulating every day, the Ministry of Defense emphasized that aspects related to the movement of troops and artillery were overlooked. “Neither the MoRTH circular of October 5, 2012, nor the circular of March 23, 2018, addressed the security needs of the country through roads that could accommodate tanks or heavy artillery and the mobilization of troops, and therefore they would be in a class apart from the roads used for the movement of civilians in mountainous territory ”, affirmed the affidavit of the Ministry of Defense.

The Defense Ministry said it was regrettable that although state security is in jeopardy in view of the situation unfolding along the border with China, “the needs of the army were mentioned in passing” by MoRTH.

He stated that the MoRTH circulars “do not refer to roads that are essential for the movement of troops, armaments, artillery and tanks to the country’s borders to defend the nation against aggression and therefore cannot be treated as if they covered the particular situation facing the state today. “

In its affidavit, the Defense Ministry asked the bank to modify its order of September 8, setting the width of the road at 5.5 m for the entire project, in terms of the 2018 MoRTH circular.

The Ministry of Defense requested that the national highway from Rishikesh to Mana, from Rishikesh to Gangotri and from Tanakpur to Pithoragarh be allowed to be developed in a 2-lane configuration with a width of 7 m “in the interest of the security of the nation and the defense of its borders ”.

The bank also asked Venugopal to resolve issues between the ministries after its office receives a report from the HPC after two weeks.

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