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NGT Directs Ministry of Road Transport and Highways File Statement on Status of Chardham Project

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to file a detailed statement on the status of the Chardham highway project which aims to provide all-weather connectivity to four holy towns of Uttarakhand.

A bench headed by Acting Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim asked the ministry to file an affidavit by May 28 giving details of the ongoing work and inform it about the areas where the work has not commenced yet. The project aims to connect Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri in Uttarakhand.

The green panel also directed the ministry to clarify its stand on the issue of obtaining environment clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment notification along with other approvals. During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni said the Chardham highway project was of national importance having regard to the fact that these are border areas.Also Read: 2018 Hyundai Creta Facelift Vs Jeep Compass – Specs, Price, Features and Which One is a Better SUV?[1]“Expansion of roads is required in larger national interest and there cannot be any compromise on this.

The project also involves greater public interest of facilitating the Chardham yatra,” the ASG said.

The submission was opposed by advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing the petitioners Citizens of Green Doon, saying environment clearance was must for the project and the ongoing work was “blatantly illegal”. He said the trees and mountains are also of national importance and it is the government’s duty to protect and preserve them. The Environment Ministry had earlier informed the NGT that it has received no proposal for environmental clearance of the project and hence the question of an environment impact assessment (EIA) study of such a project does not arise.

The ministry also said that under the 2006 EIA notification, only new national highways and expansion of highways over 100 kms need to get prior environmental clearance. The submission was made in response to a plea which said that the 900 km project in the hilly state was being carried out without any environment impact assessment. The petition also contended that the Centre has allegedly deliberately broken it into small stretches to do away the requirement for obtaining environment clearance.

The tribunal had earlier rapped the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for failing to submit a plan for disposal of muck from the highway project. The NGO had sought a stay on the Chardham project and directions to identify stretches of highways where landslides were likely to occur due to recent cutting of trees. It had alleged that the road widening work to connect Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri in Uttarakhand was being carried out in violation of environmental laws.

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“The Chardham project involves excavating and cutting away the base of the steep mountain slopes, cutting. of thousands of valuable trees and thus further destabilising the mountains and in fact turning the entire area into an active landslide zone. “It is pertinent to mention that not only will this block traffic and disrupt local life and tourist inflow greatly but in every monsoon, people will lose their lives when the landslides fall with even greater force,” the plea had said, adding that the area fell in a highly seismic zone with a history of earthquakes.

The plea had claimed that there was no information published for any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regarding this project and it was nowhere found in the public domain whether the EIA of this 900-km massive project, costing around Rs 12,000 crore, was conducted or not. “The applicants came to know about the execution of this project after massive cutting of trees on the different segments of this Chardham route (Rishikesh to Gangotri, Dharasu to Yamunotri, Rishikesh to Kedarnath and Badrinath) which recently started in the month of December, 2017,” the plea had said. Don’t Forget to Subscribe[2] to the ‘Tech And Auto Show’ YouTube Channel

It has been claimed in the petition that these Stage I and II forest clearance approvals were granted segment-wise and the number of trees in the forests to be cut were not declared for the entire project.

Instead, the project has been divided into numbers of segments for granting of approvals.

The tribunal had last year disposed a similar plea challenging the project after Border Roads Organisation (BRO) assured the NGT that they would carry out the project after due compliance with the laws, especially the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone notification of December 18, 2012.

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Johnny Sauter wins NASCAR Truck race at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – Johnny Sauter raced to his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of the season Friday night, winning for the first time in his career at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sauter led a restart with 10 to go, quickly built a large lead and cruised to his 20th career victory. Brett Moffitt and Justin Haley were battling for second, but made contact that nearly sent Haley into the wall.

“We won at Charlotte!” Sauter said on the radio. “This is the biggest of my life.”

Johnny Sauter celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Truck Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Concord, N.C. (AP Photo/Terry Renna) Sauter was the pole-setter based on owner points after the qualifying session was canceled due to rain. He led 71 of the 134 laps.

“This is a tough place,” Sauter said. “Everyone wants to win here. I never thought I’d win here. To win this race is just super special.

I never thought 40 (years old) would be so good. “This is the biggest race of my career, and I’ve won a lot of big races. We kept making adjustments on the truck all night and made it better and better.”

Sauter increased his series lead to 59 points over second-place Noah Gragson, who finished the race in eighth. Cup Series star Kyle Busch, who was slowed by a couple of pit-road penalties, finished second, 1.340 seconds back. Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Brandon Jones was third, getting passed with a lap remaining.

Moffitt and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top five.

Moffitt picked up his first career stage win, and John Hunter Nemechek took the second stage.

Johnny Sauter wins NASCAR Truck race at Charlotte

Johnny Sauter celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Truck Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Concord, N.C. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Johnny Sauter wins NASCAR Truck race at Charlotte

Johnny Sauter holds up his trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Truck Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Concord, N.C. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Johnny Sauter wins NASCAR Truck race at Charlotte

Johnny Sauter crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Truck Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Concord, N.C. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

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EU sets 30 percent CO2 reduction target for trucks by 2030

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – New large trucks in the European Union will have to emit at least 30 percent less CO2 by 2030 than in 2019 under the bloc’s first ever CO2 standards for trucks proposed on Thursday that the industry said were “far too aggressive”.

FILE PHOTO: Cars and trucks are stuck in a traffic jam near Irschenberg, Germany July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle//File Photo

The EU currently has no limits on the CO2 produced by trucks, which account for a quarter of all road transport emissions while making up just 5 percent of vehicles on the road. Countries such as the United States, China, Japan and Canada have already set targets to reduce truck CO2 emissions.

The European Commission has proposed an interim CO2 reduction target of 15 percent by 2025 for all large trucks compared to 2019 levels. By 2030 trucks will have to emit at least 30 percent less CO2 than in 2019. Europe’s auto lobby ACEA said the reduction levels proposed were “far too aggressive”.

“It would seem as though the Commission has simply taken the exact CO2 reduction levels it already proposed for cars and vans, and applied them directly to heavy-duty vehicles, without fully recognizing the fundamental differences between these vehicle segments,” Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General, said. ACEA had lobbied for a 16 percent tail-pipe CO2 reduction between 2019 and 2030, with an intermediate target of 7 percent in 2025. Large trucks account for around 65-70 percent of all CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles in the EU, which also include smaller trucks, buses and coaches.

The Commission will conduct a review in 2022 to extend the standards to other types of heavy-duty vehicles and determine their target for 2030. The EU by 2030 wants to cut emissions across all sectors of the economy by at least 40 percent versus 1990 levels. Thursday’s proposal follows new draft rules on CO2 standards for cars.

“All sectors must contribute to meet our climate commitments under the Paris Agreement,” said Miguel Arias Canete, EU Commissioner for climate action and energy. “That’s why, for the first time ever, we are proposing EU standards to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles.” Environmental campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) said the proposed targets fell short of what was needed to hit the EU’s own climate goals. Some EU countries and hauliers had called for a 2025 target of at least 24 percent and a 2030 target of 34-45 percent.

Stef Cornelis, cleaner trucks officer with T&E, said the proposed standards mean “a lot of cost-effective clean technologies won’t be fitted to new trucks, which will result in truckers and the climate missing out on big savings.” The Commission expects its targets to save around 54 million tonnes of CO2 from 2020 to 2030, equivalent to the total annual emissions of Sweden. The proposal will need to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament before becoming law.

The Commission also proposed an action plan for the production of battery cells for electric cars as part of its drive to slash transport emissions. Europe lags behind countries such as China, South Korea and Japan in the production of batteries for electric vehicles and the European car industry has warned that the rush to electric cars would hand even more business to those countries. The Commission’s measures include support for securing access to the raw materials needed to build batteries, developing the necessary skills for the manufacturing processes and investment in research and innovation for electro-mobility.

(£1 = 0.8462 euros)

Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Jason Neely and Jane Merriman

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