Indian Highways

Havoc In The Himalaya

Environmentalists and social workers have for the last several years been criticizing the "development of the Himalaya through roads" strategy. The people of the region have seen with their own eyes the tragedies wrought by roads. The villagers of Berni hamlet in Tehri Garhwal, who are 10 km from the main roadhead, recently refused a project, saying "we can walk on foot for 50 kilometres but don't want a road".

Kumaon University geologist K.S. Valdiya calculates that the construction of one kilometre of road requires removal of 40,000 to 80,000 cubic metre of debris. There are 45,000 km of roads in the Himalayan areas. Dr. N.Patnaik reports that the Border Roads Organisation has been clearing debris at a annual rate of 724 cu m/km in the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, 411 cu m/km from the Tanakpur-Tawaghat road in Kumaon, and 691 cu m/km in Arunachal Pradesh. All this is in addition to debris already removed during the construction of the roads.

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Himal Southasian