The Supreme Court Tuesday said it would hear on May 14 the matter relating to widening of the Chardham highway project, after the Centre said it involves question of national security as the road goes up to China border.
The strategic 900-km Chardham highway project aims to provide all-weather connectivity to four holy towns -- Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath -- in Uttarakhand.
The matter came up for hearing before a vacation bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari.
"It is a matter of border road. We cannot give this much time. It is important," the bench told an advocate, who was appearing in the matter and seeking three-week adjournment.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the top court that the road goes up to the China border.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the request for three-week adjournment and said the matter should be heard soon. "This is a question of national security. The road goes up to the China border".
The bench, which told the parties to place before it the relevant orders passed earlier in the matter by the top court, said it would hear the matter on May 14.
The Centre, in its affidavit filed earlier in the matter, had urged the top court to accept the majority report of 21-members of the High-Powered Committee (HPC) recommending the road to be developed to two-lane with paved shoulders (10 metre wide carriageway) considering the strategic requirement and snow removal needs.
The HPC is monitoring the Chardham highway project on the widening of roads up to Indo-China border in Uttarakhand.
Earlier, the Ministry of Defence had sought modification of the top court''s September 8 last year order which had asked the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to follow the 2018 circular stipulating carriageway width of 5.5 metre.
In August, 2019 the top court had cleared the decks for the Chardham highway project by modifying an National Green Tribunal order to constitute a high-powered committee to look into environmental concerns.
It had said that the HPC shall consider the cumulative and independent impact of the Chardham project on the entire Himalayan valley, besides other things.