Char Dham Yatra suspended

The Government of India recently suspended the Char Dham Yatra due to surge in COVID-19. Only the priests are to be allowed to conduct the daily worship and rituals. The Kedarnath is to be reopened on May 17, Gangotri and Yamunotri on May 14 and Badrinath on May 18.

Char Dham Yatra

The Char Dham Yatra is visiting four holy places in Uttarakhand. They are Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. These four holy places of Hinduism are to be connected through a highway. The Project Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana or Char Dham Mahamarg or Char Dham Highway is to construct the highway.

Char Dham Pariyojana

Under the project, the roads are to be widened from 12 metres to 24 metres. It will involve bypasses, tunnels, bridges, viaducts and subways.

Concerns

  • The roads are to be widened to improve the accessibility to the shrines. However, these areas are under the dry deciduous biome. The project will uproot vegetation in the process of widening the roads. This will be perilous to the biodiversity.
  • The river slopes in these regions are highly dependent on vegetation. Uprooting them will cause landslides and floods.
  • The Slope Vegetation is highly important as it contributes slope stability, reduces pore water pressure, increases resistive force against flowing water through root-cohesion, reduces weight of the soil by absorbing moisture and reduces surface run off.

Forest loss due to the project

  • Around 508.66 hectares of forest area are to be diverted for non-forestry purpose. More than 33,000 to 43,000 trees will be cut down.
  • Currently, the forest cover of Uttarakhand is growing at the rate of 23 hectares per year. If this rate is maintained then it will take 40-45 years to recover the loss.

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