Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat will soon write to Union minister for road and transport Nitin Gadkari explaining the importance of wider roads in the Char Dham road project from a strategic point of view and better connectivity to border areas, informed officials.
Char Dham highway project, or the all-weather road, aims to connect the four shrines of the state – Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri – through an 826 kilometre-long road.
Darshan Singh Rawat, media coordinator for chief minister Rawat said, “The chief minister will be personally writing to the Centre on the matter of Char Dham road. At present, we have sought documents presented to the Supreme Court last week. The order copy of the apex court will also be studied and then the chief minister will write to the Union minister for road and transport on this matter.”
“In the letter, the chief minister will share with the Union minister details of why the Char Dham road is important from a strategic point of view and improving connectivity to border areas,” added the CM’s media coordinator.
Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court had ordered that the ministry of road transport and highway’s (MoRTH) circular of 2018 has to be followed. The MoRTH circular says that the road in the hilly and mountain terrains are to be built with 5.5 m width (18 ft) with two-lane structures (23 ft). This is for a passenger car unit for up to 8000 cars.
A MoRTH circular issued on March 23, 2018, with the subject “Standards for Lane width of national highways and roads developed under Central Sector Schemes in Hilly and Mountainous terrains”, mentions that a 2012 letter of the ministry states that the width of the carriageway shall be at least two-lane with paved shoulders irrespective of the traffic thereon in new projects undertaken for widening of carriageway/ bypasses/ realignments.
“However, challenges have come to the fore in adhering to these standards in the context of National Highways and roads in hilly and mountainous terrains. These challenges arise on account of destabilisation of hill slopes and progressive damaging effects on road alignments and structures in higher contours on hills due to excavation works, the requirement for large-scale felling of precious trees, associated environmental damages…” states the March 2018 circular.
The circular further states that the ministry’s 2012 order has been reviewed and with the approval of the competent authority, and the following provisions would be applicable until further orders.
The provisions included, “The carriageway width shall be of intermediate lane configurations, i.e. of 5.5 m width with two-lane structures. The passing places may have widths of 2.5 m and 12 m length and these may be provided on alternate sides of the road. The length of the tapered section maybe 6 m on either side of their approaches. Accordingly, the length of the passing places maybe 24 m inclusive of the tapered length…”