Lack of protection works in Gangotri National Highway: NGT issues notices to authorities

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued notices to the authorities concerned, including the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL), on a petition claiming lack of some protection works on the Gangotri National Highway in Uttarkashi district of Uttrakhand.

According to the petition, NHIDCL failed to take action for the construction of a landslide protection gallery, slope protection work and river protection work.

A bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava and expert member A Senthil Vel noted that the petitioner’s counsel had referred to a communication from an official of NHIDCL in Uttarkashi regarding the need for the construction of a landslide protection gallery and slope protection works including cattle fence at Barethi village in the district.

The bench, in a recent order, further noted that the counsel referred to some communications by the district magistrate (DM) of Uttarkashi recognising the need for such works and the need for constituting a committee for the purpose.

Noting a news report, the bench said the Gangorti National Highway in Uttarkashi is facing a significant threat due to rising levels of the Ganga Bhagirathi river during monsoon.

Land subsidence and landslide activities, triggered by the river’s force have caused considerable damage to the highway at three major locations namely Chinyalisaur, Matli and Badethi Chungi, the bench said noting the report.

“A substantial issue relating to the compliance of the provisions of environmental laws is involved in the matter. Accordingly, we deem it proper to issue notice to the respondents,” the bench said.

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The respondents in the matter include the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, NHIDCL and the Uttarakhand government.

The green panel said, “The DM, Uttarkashi is directed to carry out the spot inspection and submit the report reflecting the correct status and extent of the need for construction of landslide protection gallery, slope protection works and river protection work as also the action, if any taken by NHIDCL in this regard.”

Directing that a report be submitted by the DM within eight weeks, the tribunal listed the matter on January 23 for further proceedings.

The plea was filed by the petitioner through Advocate Gaurav Bansal.

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