National Green Tribunal allows construction of Delhi-Dehradun Expressway
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has allowed the construction of the Delhi-Dehradun Economic Corridor Expressway that will reduce the distance between the two cities by 25 kms to just 210 kilometres. The statutory body has also formed a 12-member committee to ensure that no damage is caused to the environment and no obstruction is caused to the animal corridor on the Ganeshpur-Dehradun Road (NH-72A) stretch.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that it finds it difficult to hold that there was no application of mind in appraisal by Environment Ministry for granting forest clearance permission to the project. The newly formed 12-member committee appointed by the green panel will be headed by Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand with nominees of Wildlife Institute of India, Central Pollution Control Board, Uttarakhand State PCB and others.
The committee has been directed to meet within two weeks to take stock of the situation and plan further course of action. It can thereafter meet at least once in a month or at such earlier intervals as found necessary. It can also hold virtual or hybrid meetings.
The green tribunal also noted that the Delhi Dehradun Highway including NH-72A is an important highway connecting Delhi, Haryana and Western UP to Dehradun. The current travel time between the two cities is 6-7 hours in the non-peak hours and more than eight hours during the peak hours. “Longer travel time of vehicles in forest zone means longer time of disturbance to wildlife also," the bench stated.
The Delhi-Dehradun corridor boasts of Asia's largest wildlife elevated corridor, which spans around 12 kms of the highway, for unrestricted wildlife movement. There is a 340-meter long tunnel near DatKaali temple near Dehradun which is aimed to reduce impact on wildlife. Several animal passes have also been planned in the Ganeshpur-Dehradun section to avoid collisions.
(with inputs from PTI)