(This News Article Was Originally Posted on TOI)
All national highways that act as feeder roads to the China border or are of strategic importance for national security would be 10 metres wide.
The highways ministry modified its two-year-old circular limiting the width of such roads to 5.5 metre, which had become a bone of contention for the Chardham road widening project.
The earlier width standard does not address the issue concerning strategic roads. The standards prescribed have been further reviewed in light of the issues raised by the defence ministry.
For roads in hilly and mountainous terrain which act as feeder roads to the China border or are of strategic importance for national security, the carriageway width should be 7 metres with 1.5 metres paved shoulder on either side.
This comes barely months after the Supreme Court-appointed high-powered committee (HPC) chairman Ravi Chopra had flagged the March 23, 2018 circular to point out how the ministry was violating its own decision while executing the Chardham road project.
The HPC was vertically divided in two groups on the issue of road width with the majority of members agreeing with the government’s stand to widen the road to 12 m while the minority view was that the ministry should ensure that the tarred road width doesn’t cross the stipulated 5.5 m.
The circular has been issued on the legal opinion of the attorney general of India that there is a need to build roads of 10 m wide that lead to the China border.
The modified circular was placed before the HPC on Tuesday. So far, black topping has been completed on 425 km out of the 825 km Chardham road network.