A photo of people sitting with placards in their hands has been shared on social media. One of the placards allegedly reads, “No road on Indo-China border”. It is being claimed that an NGO called “Citizens For Green Doon” filed a petition in the Supreme Court against road construction along the India-China border in Uttarakhand, citing environmental concerns. The petition was filed by lawyers Colin Gonzales and Mohammad Aftab, as per the claim. The claim adds that the lawyers have argued that the road is unnecessary since the army can use the air route during war.
Pro-BJP propaganda portal Kreately tweeted the image with the same claim.
Stop road construction at the Indo-China border: NGO to the Supreme Court pic.twitter.com/ONDwSf9XQU
— Kreately.in (@KreatelyMedia) November 10, 2021
A former head of the BJP IT Cell and Digital India Foundation co-founder Arvind Gupta shared Kreately’s tweet.
User @MeghBulletin also promoted the photo with this claim, which garnered 1,296 retweets. (Archive link)
An alleged NGO “Citizens For Green Doon” through lawyers Coulin Gonzales & Md Aftab have filed a petition in the SC urging it to stop the construction of roads on the Indo-China border in Uttarakhand citing the environment.
Says “Indian Forces can use air route in war” pic.twitter.com/4TuUvBwrjP
— MeghUpdates🚨™ (@MeghBulletin) November 10, 2021
Twitter user ‘@drapr007’ amplified the claim as well.
When we searched for the ‘Citizens For Green Doon’ Facebook page, we discovered that the viral image was set as their cover photo. However, in this version, the placard the woman is holding reads, ‘Come join CFGD’. This confirms that the image in question is edited.
Upon further research into the petition, Alt News came across a Live Law report from November 10. According to Live Law, the petition did not mention anything about restrictions on road construction. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had proposed a width of 5.5 meters for roads in hilly and mountainous terrain in a 2018 circular. The petition states that the objective of the Char Dham project was to broaden the roads to enable easier access for religious pilgrims and so that the buses could cross each other without difficulty. The army wanted a road that was 10 meters wide, but the NGO maintains that it should only be 5.5 meters wide for the pilgrims. The organisation was against road widening, and nothing has been mentioned about the army or the India-China border in 2018 circular. In 2020, the circular was amended to widen the border roads to 7 meters.
Alt News also reached out to the NGO’s lawyer Colin Gonsalves for more information. Refuting the viral claim, he said that their petition did not mention anything about road construction for the Char Dham Yatra. “In 2018, the width of the road was fixed as 5.5 meters under this project. Afterward, there was a call to widen the roads to 10 meters, which is harmful to the environment and increases the risk of landslides. There was no talk of banning road construction in court from our side. We had actually demanded that the width of these roads be reduced. We proposed that the width of these roads should be fixed as per the requirements of the Char Dham devotees,” he explained.
To sum it up, an edited image on social media was circulated with the false claim that an NGO had filed a petition objecting to road construction on the India-China border citing environmental concerns.