Over the last few decades, India’s developmental story has faced several hurdles from environmentalists. Recently, they tried to stall the Char Dham project, but Supreme Court’s wisdom came to the government’s rescue at the right time.
Supreme Court won’t allow stalling of the Char Dham project:
In a remarkable judgment, a bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath refused to intervene in the Defence ministry’s decision to widen the roads as a part of the Char Dham project.
The 899-km long project is one of the dream projects of the Union government which will be connecting the four holy places in Uttarakhand state namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
MoRTH and Defence ministry are collaborating on the project:
As part of this pious mission, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had decided to construct a 5.5metre wide tarred road for highways. The guideline for the project was issued in 2018. However, when MoRTH decided to widen it, the decision was challenged in Supreme Court by a Dehradun based NGO called Citizens for Green Doon. Later, in September 2020, Court ordered MoRTH to stick to its old circular.
Things changed when the defence ministry jumped into the issue. They concluded that the 5.5metre width road is not sufficient to carry strategic weaponry like the Brahmos missile regiments and requested the court to change the width requirement to 10 meters.
The court struck a balance between strategic and environmental interests:
A bench headed by renowned justice DY Chandrachud affirmed to strike a balance between national security and environmental concerns. The bench stated that it does not find any malafide intention in the ministry’s attempt to increase the width for strategic purposes. The honourable court refused to entertain the request for judicial review of the project. Court clearly stated that it cannot second guess the requirements of the army in the exercise of judicial review. “We allow the application by the Defence Ministry for double-lane highways for the three strategic highways,” the Court said in its order.
In its judgment, Court also addressed the environmental concerns. It ordered to form an oversight committee which will be headed by Justice AK Sikri, former judge of Supreme Court. It will have representatives from the National Environmental Research Institute and the Ministry of Environment. It will report to the apex court at every four-month interval to inform about the implementation of existing recommendations.
A fresh start for Hindus who have been constant targets of Environmentalists:
The judgment came as a sigh of relief for Hindus who are constant targets of environmentalists. Environmentalists take a special dig at Hindus whenever they try to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of religion.
These activists had also been using the delayed judgments caused due to pending cases to further their agendas. Now, Supreme Court is also listing environmental matters on an urgent basis so that a quick decision could stop delaying projects.