SC allows Centre to reply to panel chief's letter linking Chardham project to disaster

SC allows Centre to reply to panel chiefs letter linking Chardham project to disaster

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Centre to respond to the "allegations" of the Chairman of committee on Chardham project linking broadening of the road to the recent flash floods on Dhauliganga river, which damaged Tapovan hydro project and loss of lives in Uttarakahnd.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the apex court that he would like to file a response to a letter of the chairman of a top court appointed high-powered committee in which several "allegations" have been made with regard to broadening of the road and the recent disaster in the state. The High-Powered Committee (HPC) is monitoring the Chardham highway project on the widening of the roads up to Indo-China border in Uttarakhand.

Venugopal said that the high powered committee chairperson Ravi Chopra has on his own written a letter to the government linking the disaster with the Chardham project.

Taking note of his submission, a bench comprising Justices R F Nariman, Hemant Gupta and B R Gavai, said "You file response to it" and listed the matter for hearing after two weeks.

Ravi Chopra, Chairman of the HPC has told the top court that irreversible damage has been caused to the Himalayan ecology due to the construction of hydroelectric projects and the road widening which has resulted in recent disaster of flash flood in Chamoli district.

In a letter to the apex court, Chopra said that post the Kedarnath tragedy in 2013, an expert body submitted a report highlighting impact of hydroelectric projects and had these concerns and recommendations been adopted, the massive loss of lives and property could have been avoided in the Rishi Ganga and Tapovan Vishnugad projects.

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