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Uttarakhand govt clears forest land transfer to build roads near China border

The Uttarakhand authorities has cleared diversion of about 70 hectares of forest land within the Gangotri National Park for building of three strategically essential roads to China border. The determination was taken within the 15th State Wildlife Advisory Board assembly on Tuesday, officers stated.

The highway proposals cleared embrace preserving the Gartang Gali highway within the Uttarkashi district, an historic highway between India and Tibet.

Uttarakhand forest minister Harak Singh Rawat stated that these roads are essential from the nationwide safety viewpoint as they join the bottom camps of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) arrange near China border in Uttarkashi district.

“In a big move for national security, wildlife clearance proposal was given for three roads passing through Gangotri National Park which includes a 11.85 km long road from Sumla to Thangla for which transfer of 30.39 hectares of forest land was approved. The second road is a 6.21 km long road from Tripani to Rangmachagar for which transfer of 11.218 hectares of forest land was approved. The third road is a 17.60 km long road from Mandi to Sangchokla for which transfer of 31.76 hectares of forest land was approved,” stated Rawat.

These proposals will now be despatched to National Board for Wildlife for last approval.

When requested in regards to the affect on forests and the surroundings due to the development of the roads, the minister stated, “If a road is constructed then there will be a slight impact on the environment, but this region is important from national security point of view. The impact would not be much as the common man would not be using these road and it would only be for the security personnel. The construction of the roads will improve the supply of food, ration, weapons for our soldiers.”

He added the estimation might be executed to discover out the variety of timber that “might have to be cut for construction of these roads.”

“During the 1962 war we did not have roads constructed till the border area and China was in an advanced position. The stand-off at the border is happening because India has started constructing roads and strengthening border areas. With the current condition of roads, it is difficult to take weapons to the border points, but once the road is constructed, that process will become smooth,” added Rawat.

NB Sharma, deputy director of Gangotri National Park, stated these three roads are within the inside a part of the park near the China border.

“From areas of Sumla, Tripani and Mandi, our troops including army and ITBP personnel have to reach the border area on foot. The State Wildlife Advisory Board at present has given wildlife clearance and the proposal will now be sent to National Board for Wildlife for further clearance after which the land transfer process will start. The area where the roads will be constructed is at a height of 15,000 feet from sea level and have complete barren lands with no trees. Only some grasses grow in that area and as there are almost no trees, they would not have to be cut,” stated Sharma.

However, specialists say that environmental affect must also be thought of together with the strategical significance of the undertaking.

Ajay Singh Rawat, an environmentalist, stated, “For the construction of roads, agencies might have to opt for blasting, which will disturb the mountains and can trigger tremendous landslides. If motorable roads are made at such places without giving importance to the ecological effect and a landslide occurs, then the road will be blocked. These areas are part of the catchment area for the Indo-Gangetic plains, which is home to 40% of India’s population. If the ecology of such an area is disturbed, then the impact percolates down to other states also.”

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