The strategically important Char Dham project in Uttarakhand that is linked to China border will be developed, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari told Lok Sabha.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Gadkari said that the government will protect the environment in the Himalayan eco-sensitive region but the project is also important.
The Union Minister said that the Char Dham project, worth ₹12,000 crore, is an all-weather road connecting Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri, the project had 53 packages.
"Work on 40 other packages is going on, while 13 packages are under process. Five out of the 13 packages pass through eco-sensitive zones," Gadkari said, adding that work on 169 km costing ₹2,450 crore, has been completed.
As the road passes through an eco-sensitive zone, environmentalists have raised concerns about the Char Dham project. The minister informed that the Supreme Court had also ordered to decrease the breadth of the road.
He said the government is committed to protecting ecology and the environment the Char Dham project is strategically important as it is linked to China border.
"We will protect the environment in this eco-sensitive area and also build the road. But if the traffic is increasing, accidents are rising, then we have to increase the breadth of the road. If we have to pull out a tree, then it has to be transplanted", the minister said.
Gadkari hoped that the Supreme Court grants the approval for the project and if transplanting is not possible then as many as 10 trees should be planted for each one that would be cut, reported Times of India.
The Char Dham project will open in a year for the public so that tourists can visit these places round the clock.