Indian Army’s need of the hour in the Chardham project case

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Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal is a Defence and Aerospace Journalist with his articles/works on various digital and print media platforms. He is an Anchor/Host and Correspondent associated with several News Media Organizations. He is responsible for Digital Media and Defense reporting at Frontier India. *Views are personal

The Supreme Court of India has been told by the Centre that if heavy machinery along with missile launchers cannot be moved up to the Northern India China border by the Indian Army, how will it be possible to defend the area and fight a war if It Breaks out. The centre addressed the issue while trying to allay the concerns of landslides in the Himalayan regions due to the construction of the wider Chardham Highway project.

In order to mitigate the disaster, the government’s submission before the apex Court on Thursday says that all the necessary steps have been taken while landslides have happened in various parts of the country though, road constructions are not a specific reason for it.

A Barrier

With an objective of providing all-weather connectivity to the four Holy towns namely Kedarnath, Gangotri, Badrinath and Yamunotri in Uttarakhand, the strategic 900 km long Chardham project which is worth ₹12,000 crores is being constructed.

As said by the Press Trust of India, the Attorney General appearing for Centre said that machinery, tanks, food supplies, missiles, weapons, troops and heavy vehicles are needed to be moved by the Indian army in these inhospitable trains. On the other hand, he said that large vehicles are needed to carry the launchers for Brahmos missile since it is a 42 feet long weapon and if these missile launchers and machinery cannot be moved by the Indian Army up to the northern China border, how will it be capable of fighting a war If It Breaks out at all.

Need of Hour

Besides steps like afforestation, scientific mark disposal and slope stabilization, geological morphology, human activities and surveys in the vulnerable areas have also been undertaken by appropriate studies as said by the Attorney General while he also added that the Indian Army needs to have its weapons well prepared if a war breaks out in the area and they have to be careful and on guard.

It was further added by the attorney-general that even where there are no Road activity landslides can happen in those areas as well while mitigation steps that are necessary are undertaken and roads need to be disaster resilient. In the vulnerable areas which witness frequent landslides and heavy snowfall blocking the roads, specialised protection measures have been undertaken for the same.

All the available resources and forces are needed to be combined for the protection of the nation as today there is a situation where the country needs to be well protected as said by the top law officer. The officer also said that it is better to be ensured that all the facilities that are required by the Indian Army are well provided. An excuse such as saying that since the roads are of 5.5 M width, Brahmos launches cannot be moved up the hill, there are huge tanks, other Smerch multiple rocket launchers along with Tatra trucks which are required to go up the hill, the officer further said.

On the other hand, the attorney-general said that a stupendous task to reach up to the China border through the mountain passes will have to be undertaken by the Indian Army come whatever may, like landslides or snowfall.

It was further said that we have to live with landslides as there are no alternatives, the Indian Army cannot say that these mountain roads cannot be taken by them due to the occurrence of landslides and hence the above-cited borders cannot be protected. Landslides will have to be dealt with through mitigating steps and they have also occurred in other parts of the country including West Bengal, Karnataka and the North-Eastern states. On the other hand, it has to be accepted for a fact that Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand witness a greater number of landslides as compared to the other states.

Different aspects

Totally different aspects were focused on by the HPC report as said by the Attorney General and it did not consider the situations of the Indian army which it has to undertake.

Additional safeguards that could be possibly imposed on the implementing agencies of the Char Dham project were asked by the top Court to be suggested by the Centre and an NGO earlier on Wednesday if it allows the multi-thousand crore project to go on considering the huge ramification of the country’s defence needs.

The Centre’s plea seeking modification of the 8 September 2020 order which asked the ministry of road transport and highways to follow the circular of 2018 stipulating carriageway width of 5.5 m on the Chardham highway project that evidently goes up to the China border was heard by the court.

Seeking modifications of the order along with directions that the national highways from Rishikesh to Gangotri, from Rishikesh to Mana and from Tanakpur to Pithoragarh may be developed to two-lane configuration was submitted by the Ministry of Defence before the apex court.

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