Acknowledging that complaints were received regarding the development of cracks in houses at the Chamba tunnel site on NH-34, the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) on Thursday said that a committee constituted by the Uttarakhand government did not attribute the damage to the tunnel construction. Responding to a query of Ritesh Pandey, Lok Sabha MP from Ambedkar Nagar, union minister Nitin Gadkari said that THDC India Limited (THDCIL) was appointed to study landslide susceptibility areas and to suggest mitigation measures for the roads being developed under the Char Dham highway project. It also conducted geological surveys.
The Char Dham project was taken up to enhance connectivity for Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri in Uttarakhand.
Pandey, the Bahujan Samaj Party MP, had asked the ministry whether it is aware that a large number of residents have lodged complaints with regard to the development of cracks in houses and drying up of water sources caused by the tunnel construction.
Gadkari, in response, acknowledged that complaints were received regarding the development of cracks in houses at the Chamba tunnel site on national highway 34.
“The committee constituted under the chairmanship of director, Uttarakhand Space Application Centre (USAC), by the state government of Uttarakhand did not attribute the cracks in houses to the tunnel construction,” he said.
The national highway 34 starts from Gangotri Dham and connects Bhatwari, Uttarkashi, Dharasu, near Terhi, Ampata, Rishikesh, and Haridwar in Uttarakhand. In May 2020, a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) team made a major breakthrough in the Char Dham project as they dug up a 440-m-long tunnel below the busy Chamba town on the Rishikesh-Dharasu road highway.
Locals have been saying that they have noticed cracks appearing in their homes after the tunnel was dug. The cracks started appearing in the houses of Chamba Main Market.
Gadkari also said that the national highway construction activities of the Char Dham project are being reviewed and monitored by a high-powered committee for non-strategic roads – Rudrarprayag-Gaurikund and Dharasu Bend-Jankichatti. He said that an oversight committee for strategic roads – Rishikesh-Mana, Rishikesh-Gangotri, and Tanakpur-Pithoragarh – was constituted as per the directions of the Supreme Court of India.
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