There is an urgent need for helicopter landing facilities at ecologically sensitive zones to ensure disaster management operations in case of mishaps like the recent glacier burst in Uttarakhand, a parliamentary panel told the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture in its latest report tabled in Parliament also asked the ministry to ensure ecological balance while completing the remaining part of the Rs 12,000 crore Char Dham project.
''Taking cognizance of the glacier burst at Uttarakhand that occurred on February 7, 2021, which led to the loss of precious lives, the Committee underlines the urgent need for providing for helicopter landing facilities at ecologically sensitive areas, to ensure effective disaster management operations,'' the 31-member panel chaired by TG Venkatesh said.
It asked for effective coordination in this regard by related ministries, departments, organizations, and entities.
The committee ''stressed the need for close monitoring of ecological changes using the latest technology available, to prevent such natural disasters. In brief, the committee accentuates the necessity for very close and effective coordination among all the related ministries/departments/organizations and entities.''
It also advised the ministry to actively engage with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) regularly. On February 7, 2021, a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district killing more than 65 people while over 130 were missing. The burst caused a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and endangered lives and disrupted activities of people living along its banks and nearby areas.
The 13.2 mw Rishi Ganga hydel project was demolished in the avalanche while the Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project suffered extensive damage.
About the Char Dham project, the parliamentary panel said it notes the delays being faced in the Char Dham Pariyojna on account of the litigations in the National Green Tribunal and Supreme Court.
''Keeping in view the fact that the regions covered under the Char Dham Pariyojna are ecologically sensitive in nature, the Committee recommends the ministry to exercise due caution, diligence, and care, while exceeding the remaining stretches of the project and make sincere efforts to minimize the adverse impact, if any, on the environmental and ecological balance,'' the report said.
The strategic 900-km Chardham highway project aims to provide all-weather connectivity to four holy towns — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath — in Uttarakhand.