In a move to improve connectivity, making journey safer, faster and more convenient for Char Dham pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas, the Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna was launched in 2016. The foundation stone of the ambitious project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 December 2016.
The road project will see all-weather connectivity to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri in the length of 889 km in the state of Uttarakhand. The mega project will be taken up in seven packages — Rishikesh-Rudraprayag, Rudraprayag-Mana village, Rishikesh-Dharasu, Dharasu-Gangotri, Dharasu-Yamunotri, Rudraprayag-Gaurikund, Tanakpur- Pithoragarh.
The estimated cost of the mega project stands at around Rs 12,000 crore.
- The entire length of the highways will be two-laned with paved shoulders with a minimum width of 10 mtr.
- Tunnels, bypasses, bridges, subways and viaducts to prevent traffic bottlenecks.
- Development of wayside amenities and public facilities, including parking spaces and helipad for emergency evacuation.
- In 2016, the Finance Ministry approved an extra budgetary support of Rs 2,070 crore.
- In 2017, the Centre sanctioned Rs 1,557 crore for the Tanakpur-Pithoragarh (Package VII).
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) authorised construction of 4.531 km long two-lane, bi-directional Silkyara Bend-Barkot tunnel at a cost of Rs 1,383.78 crore.
- The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) approved one-time fund infusion amounting to Rs 279.88 crore for completion of Haridwar Dehradun Project.
- As much as Rs 1,800 crore has been spent under Chardham project till February 2019.
One of the major projects to be undertaken under Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna is construction 4.531 km long Silkyara tunnel at Garhwal region by the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL). The tunnel will be developed at a cost of Rs 1,119.69 crore. The new road will reduce travel distance from Dharasu to Yamunotri by around 20 km and travel time by about an hour.
Apart from this, work has already begun under this mega project. The Public Works Department, Uttarakhand, has undertaken Tanakpur-Pithoragarh Package VII. Four projects are underway in this section with an aggregate cost of Rs 893 crore.
Also, work is underway by NHIDCL for Chamoli-Paini section (part of Package- III) worth Rs 417.24 crore, Karanprayag-Chamoli section (part of Package- II) worth Rs 295.49 crore.
In October 2018, the Supreme Court had put a stay order on the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which had cleared the Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna. The SC had issued notice to governments at the Centre and Uttarakhand and sought their response. The NGT in September 2018 had constituted a committee to monitor the ambitious project while giving its nod with some safeguards in view of the larger public interest and the country’s security in the construction of the highway.
However, in January 2019, the Supreme Court gave a nod to the ongoing project under the Chardham project, but the stay on stalled projects under the plan will continue till further orders.