Day 61 – Q 1. Recently Supreme Court has given its nod to the Chardham Project. What will be its socio – economic implications? What are the environmental concerns related to the project?
Q.1) Recently Supreme Court has given its nod to the Chardham Project. What will be its socio – economic implications? What are the environmental concerns related to the project? (20m – 250 words)
The 900-kilometre Char Dham highway project is aimed at expanding and connecting highways leading to four pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – considered holy by followers of Hinduism.
Some environmental activists and NGOs approached to The Supreme Court demanding stay on project due to concerns of possible environmental damages. But SC recently nodded for go ahead to chardham project.
Socio-economic implications of the Chardham Project:
- The four towns of the hilly State to be connected by all-weather roads are Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
- Accessibility will help local communities to develop. It will be easy for government to provide basic services to communities living in that area.
- Easy accessibility to pilgrimages sites will help in preserving the rich heritage and culture of India.
- Connectivity infrastructure is very important for tourism to flourish. Tourism will help in growth of traditional industry of the region and create additional employment.
- This connectivity project extends up to Tanakpur and Pithorgarh, which are near Indo-Nepal border. It will enhance avenues of trade between two countries and improve people to people contacts.
In terms of socio-economic implications, there are some setbacks too;
- Easy accessibility may lead to industrialisation of the region and exploitation of the local communities.
- Tourism on very large extent may lead to domination of business tycoons, and local businessmen traders will suffer.
- Such a large scale project may lead to displacement of people already residing in the region. Porous border can lead to smuggling and illegal entry of migrants and hostile non-state actors.
- Petitions filed against the project are based on environmental concerns only.
- This region lies on the border where the Indian tectonic plate goes under the Eurasian Tectonic Plate.
The phenomenon makes the region susceptible to earthquakes and landslides.
- The Geological Survey of India, in its report prepared after the Kedarnath disaster, states that road construction in mountains reactivates landslides as it disturbs the “toe of the natural slope of the hill.”
- On one hand we are aiming to reduce CO2 emission as targeted under our INDCs for Paris agreement, on the other hand as many as 25,300 trees have been cut and 373 hectares of forestland diverted for Char Dham Mahamarg.
- The road from Uttarkashi to Gangotri comes under the Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).
- Since projects less than 100km are not required to go through EIA, the Government has been accused of bypassing the Environment Impact Assessment by breaking the project in many small projects.
- Infrastructure development is necessary for India to continue its track as fastest growing economy. Safety and security of the thousands of pilgrims, inclusive development of all communities and such other are responsibilities of the government. But environment is also equally important.
- Thus we need to strike a fine balance between our development goals and environment protection.
- It must be noted that NGT and SC both has given green signal to the project, their decision must be on the basis of merits and intended towards larger good.
Best Answer: Sreelakshmy Vijayan Uma