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Chardham-Highway Project - Status, Completion, UPSC, PIB

Published on Mar 26, 2020

Chardham-Highway Project - Status, Completion, UPSC, PIB

Char Dham Expressway National Highway is a proposed two-lane (in each direction) express National Highway with a minimum width of 10 metres in the state of Uttarakhand. The proposed highway will compliment the under development Char Dham Railway by connecting the four holy places in Uttarakhand states includes Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri The project includes 900 km national highways will connect whole of Uttarakhand state.

The total cost of INR Rs.12000 crores and the foundation stone of the project was laid by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 27 December 2016 at Parade Ground in Dehradun. The highway will be called Char Dham Mahamarg (Char Dham Highway) and the highway construction project will be called as Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana (Char Dham Highway Development Project) and is made to improve the connectivity to the Chota Char Dham centered in the Himalayas. Road will include several long bridges and tunnels to eliminate accident and slide prone areas. Indian Railway and National Highways Authority of India have been directed, by the Chief Secretary of India, to ensure that rail and road highway routes are integrated on this circuit

Chardham-Highway Project

Route Alignment

Originating from Rishikesh, Char Dham highway network will have four distinct routes,

From west to east and south to north.

• Rishikesh–Yamunotri

• Rishikesh

• Dharasu, NH 94, 144 km from Rishikesh

• Yamunotri, NH 94, 95 km from Dharasu

• Rishikesh–Gangotri (same route are previous one till Dharasu).

This will take the railway and Char Dham road highway at Gangotri close to the large disputed India-China border area of Nelang Valley which is currently in India's operational control.

• Rishikesh

• Dharasu, NH 94, 144 km from Rishikesh

• Gangotri, NH 108, 124 km from Dharasu

• Rishikesh–Kedarnath

• Rishikesh

• Rudraprayag, NH 58, 140 km from Rishikesh

• Gaurikund (trek to Kedarnath), NH 109, 76 km from Rudraprayag

• Rishikesh-Badrinath (same route are previous one till Rudraprayag).

This will take the railway and Char Dham road highway at Badrinath closer to the disputed valley on India-China border area of Barahoti which is currently in India's operational control.

• Rishikesh

• Rudraprayag, NH 58, 140 km from Rishikesh

• Joshimath

• Mana (trek to Badrinath), NH 58, 140 km from Rudraprayag

Chardham-Highway Project


1. It will boost the economy and travel industry in Uttarakhand.

2. Decrements in the numbers of road accidents.

3. Two lane road, bridges and tunnels will decrease the overall time (30% to 40%) of travel and fuel cost.

4. New signboards and security measures help drivers to drive more safely.

5. It will develop the trust and security between pilgrims and travelers for a safe journey.

6. New jobs helps local folks to make them financially strong which will decrease the migration.


The first major impact of the project is happening on trees and resultantly on dwindling forest cover of the state. Various reports claim that from about 33,000 to 43,000 trees would be cut across 8 districts to make way for the roads. Various reports even states that about 25,303 trees have already been cut on a combined stretch of 356 km of forest land. In all 508.66 ha forest land would be diverted for the project of which the environment ministry has reportedly given approval for diversion of 475.71 ha forest land.

Chardham-Highway Project

Notably in the last 2 years, Uttarakhand have not reported even 1 percent increase in its forest cover. The latest Forest Survey of India (FSI) 2017 report finds only a marginal increase of 23 sq km forest cover since 2015.

On the contrary the 2015 FSI report mentions of a decrease of 268 sq km in the forest cover since 2013. The report cites rotational felling and diversion of forest land for development activities as main reason behind fall in forest cover. Out of 53,483 sq km geographical area about 24,240 sq km area is under forest cover in the state.

A 94 km long stretch of the road project falls in Bhagirathi valley, Uttrakashi which is a part of the eco sensitive zone (ESZ) notified on December 18, 2012. The ESZ covers 4179 sq km area along a 100-km stretch of Bhagirathi river from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi.

Construction activities are prohibited in ESZ. To escape the mandatory environmental clearance the centre government has divided the 889 km long project into 52 parts.

This means that the project has gone through no environment, social or disaster potential assessments, no public consultations, no appraisal, no monitoring, has no management plans and no question of any compliance.

Soil Erosion and Landslides

For widening of the roads precarious mountain slopes are being cut in a haphazard manner with the use of heavy machines like JCBs and Poklands. The process has removed the vegetation cover on slopes downhill and exposed underneath soil and rocks to erosion along the slopes. There have been many reports showing how hasty widening of roads has destabilised the slopes and ensued multiple landslides.

There are 29 landslide-prone zones identified along Char Dham project route. Report says that owing to inappropriate road cutting over 500 landslides have formed across project routes. As per experts mountain’s slopes should not be cut at 80 degree or 90 degree angle but in a hurry to meet deadline the proponent are ignoring all such precautions. There are places in Uttarakhand where landslides have become permanent disaster. The recurring landslides at Varunavat Parvat and at Ojhari both in Uttarkashi are evidence of region’s fragility.

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