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Char Dham road project: Rawat says 5.5 m road width won’t work

The project, meant to widen 889 km of hill roads to provide all-weather connectivity between major pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand, ran into a heated debate with members of a Supreme Court-appointed High Powered Committee divided on the width of the road.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun | September 19, 2020 9:05:00 am
Char Dham road project, Char Dham project, uttarakhand Char Dham road project, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Trivendra Singh Rawat on char dham road project, char dham border areasUttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. (Express file photo)

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Friday said the cap of 5.5 m width in the Char Dham road project won’t work from the strategic point of view in the sensitive border areas of the state.

Rawat was addressing an online press conference on the completion of three-and-a-half years of the BJP government led by him. “5.5 metre road width se kaam nahi chalega (5.5 m road width won’t work),” he said in reply to a query.

He said he will urge the Centre to look into the matter and take a decision and stressed that wider roads are required for activities related to national security in border areas.

The Chief Minister’s remark holds significance against the backdrop of a recent Supreme Court directive to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to go by its 2018 circular on the width of roads in hilly terrain in execution of the Char Dham road project. According to the 2018 guidelines, “intermediate carriageway of 5.5 m tarred surface be adopted” for roads in such terrain.

The project, meant to widen 889 km of hill roads to provide all-weather connectivity between major pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand, ran into a heated debate with members of a Supreme Court-appointed High Powered Committee divided on the width of the road. While the majority favoured increasing the width to 12 m, a section, including the committee’s chairman, favoured a width of 5.5 m for the carriageway and an additional paved shoulder — taking the total width to about 7 to 7.5 m — for use by pedestrians or pilgrims who trek to the pilgrimage sites.

Rawat said his government has fulfilled 85 per of the promises made to the people. He said that since April 2017, over 7.12 lakh people were provided jobs in different departments. Out of them, he said, nearly 5.80 lakh jobs were provided through private investment, under construction development projects and self-entrepreneurship.

The Chief Minister said the Uttarakhand Subordinate Service Selection Commission conducted 59 examinations and filled 6,000 posts since 2017 whereas the same commission conducted only eight exams to fill 801 posts between 2014 and 2017 — an apparent reference to the Congress rule in the state.

The Chief Minister shared the data on employment a day after the Congress staged protests on unemployment. He also announced a plan to provide jobs to 40.000 people in the next three months under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority.

Also, to protect agriculture crops from wild animals, the government is going to build a 125-km wall to stop boars, a 13-km wall and trenches for elephants and a 50-km solar-powered fence for other animals.

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