Suprem Court
Suprem Court

Char Dham highway: SC urgent hearing on Friday

New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on Friday the Centre’s plea for widening of the highway roads in Uttarakhand to connect Char Dhams, the pilgrimage sites for the Hindu devotees.

The Centre moved the court for widening the 900-km-long Char Dham highway project not on the religion grounds but on the ground of the defence needs for movement of the forces up to the China border.

A Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari agreed for an early hearing on Friday, observing the matter is of the national importance and hence it cannot be delayed after the summer vacation since the construction will become difficult once the monsoon arrives.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, pleaded the road width has to be 7 metres for an easy movement of the heavy military vehicles.

He was pleading against the SC order last September to limit the road width of the entire Char Dham route at not over 5.5 metres as proposed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in its circular in 2018. The Bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman had allowed the width of 5.5 metres.

Delhi HC Central Vista hearing put off to Wed

The Delhi High Court deferred to Wednesday the hearing on 2 PILs to stop the prestigious Central Vista Project, a brainchild of PM Modi, as it needed time to study an affidavit by the Centre only on Tuesday claiming the workers engaged in the project have no Covid risk as they have been provided all necessary health care.

The Centre claimed the workers enjoy the Covid-19 compliant facilities, including stay at the site, testing, isolation and medical aid at site. It said all information is in public domain but the petitioners suppressed it in their PILs and so they should be dismissed with costs. The petitions were to be heard by the HC on May 17, but it agreed an immediate hearing as desired by the Supreme Court on being mentioned by senior advocate Siddharth Luthra on Monday before a Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh.

The petitioners, documentary filmmaker Sohail Hashmi and social activist Anya Malhotra, have contended the project was not an essential activity as declared by the government and so it can be put on hold during the pandemic. On Tuesday, it filed a plea to appoint a local commissioner to verify the Centre’s claims of the facilities to the workers and permissions secured for the movement of trucks even during the lockdown.

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