A Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Vikram Nath today allowed double lane widening of roads for the Chardham project in view of security concerns.

A Bench also set up an oversight committee headed by retired Justice A K Sikri to report to it directly on the project.

The oversight committee shall receive all support from the Defence Ministry, Ministry of Road Transport, Uttarakhand Government and all district magistrates, as per the order of the Supreme Court.

The strategic 900-km-long Chardham project worth Rs 12,000 crore aims to provide all-weather connectivity to four holy towns, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath in Uttarakhand.

The Court was hearing the Centre's plea seeking modification of the September 8, 2020 order, which had asked the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to follow the 2018 circular stipulating carriageway width of 5.5 metre on the ambitious Chardham highway project, which goes up to the border with China.

In its application, the MoD had said that it seeks modification of the order and directions that the national highways from Rishikesh to Mana, from Rishikesh to Gangotri, and from Tanakpur to Pithoragarh may be developed to two-lane configuration.

Earlier, during the hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal had submitted before the Court that if the Army cannot move its missile launchers, heavy machinery up to the northern Indo-China border, it will affect our defence if a war breaks out. Today there is a situation where the country needs to be protected and all the available resources and forces need to be combined to protect the country, AG had argued before the Court.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the NGO Citizens for Green Doon, had argued that the road widening project has to be stopped.

With PTI inputs