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Uttarakhand tunnel collapse sets the tone for environmental nod!

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Uttarakhand tunnel collapse sets the tone for environmental nod!

 The unsustainable model of growth is hurting the Himalayan ecosystem

Recently, upon the collapse of the tunnel, many people were stuck. From the sinking of Joshimath to storms and landslides, the area has to deal with a story that shows how dangerous it is to alter the Himalayas. Experts believe that the Char Dham National Highway Project is at the heart of this problem. It represents a more significant problem, which is how an unsustainable model of growth is hurting the Himalayan ecosystem.

The Associated Legal and Environmental Norms

Concerns are raised about the project’s complicated legal path, as changes and uses of existing laws are seen to be easing its progress. Notably, the Supreme Court, which is supposed to protect environmental standards, was involved in letting people get around the need for environmental effect assessments for projects that go beyond 100 km. The clear lack of enforcement for following environmental rules shows a troubling truth: growth is valued more than preservation.

Silkyara Tunnel Collapse and an Engineering Mess

The recent failure of the Silkyara tunnel is a powerful example of the systemic engineering chaos that comes with such huge projects. The fact that fragile rock forms were not considered during excavation shows that geologists have a lot to learn. This fundamental lack of knowledge not only highlights a major flaw in the planning stages but also makes us question the government’s dedication to managing the Himalayas’ complex geological landscape.

The issue is by passing of environmental clearance

The under-construction tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot comes under the 880-km Char Dham project or Char Dham Pariyojana which bypassed environment impact assessment (EIA) after the project was divided into several stretches that were small enough to not warrant EIA or environmental clearance.

The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023 which will come into force in December, also exempts strategic national security projects on land situated within 100 km of international borders, Line of Control and Line of Actual Control, from environmental clearances. This, experts fear, could endanger sensitive ecosystems in the Western Himalayas and Northeast, where entire states could fall under the 100km exemption.

Rushed job devoid of EIA says expert

“The entire Char Dham pariyojana was a rushed job. In the process, shortcuts have been taken which violated the existing laws. The avoidance of an EIA was particularly harmful. Take the case of the Silkyara tunnel– had an EIA been done, there would have been a disaster management plan in place which is a mandatory part of an EIA as it would have helped decide if the location was safe for constructing such a tunnel as said by a veteran environmentalist.

Proprietary blog of Karma Global

Collated and compiled by the internal staff of Karma Global with the knowledge and expertise that they possess, besides adaptation, illustration, derivation, transformation, collection and auto-generation for its monthly newsletter Issue 19 of January 2024 and in case of specific or general information or compliance updates for that matter, kindly reach out to the Marketing Team – kush@karmamgmt.com / yashika@karmamgmt.com

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