Rohtang traffic restrictions to continue : NGT

News, Views

imageShimla :The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday refused to stay the operation of its

earlier direction limiting the entry of diesel and petrol
tourist vehicles to 1,000 a day.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar
refused to relax its May 5 order which had put a cap on number
of vehicles passing daily through the 13,050 ft high pass which links the
Kullu valley to Lahaul valley, to 1000 vehicles (600 petrol
while 400 would be diesel).

The directions came while hearing a plea of Him-Aanchal Taxi Operators Union through senior advocate Vibha Dutt
Makhija, after the Supreme Court refused to provide them
relief while asking them to approach NGT for their grievances.

“What efforts your association has taken up except
creating halla (hue and cry). State government has not moved
an inch to restore the environment.”
“Himachal Pradesh is one of the best states in our
country. It has got tremendous tourism potential. The state
government has ruined the situation. 18 hydro projects in one
state, what will happen to the state. What will you do with

the electricity produced if there is no environment.”

“You cannot finish Rohtang like this. You cannot ruin
nature. Can you restore the glacier which is reducing by one
metre per year,” the bench said.

The Tribunal directed the Ministry of Environment and
Forests (MoEF) and the Himachal government to sit together and
work out a feasible solution to the problem.

It also asked the taxi operators to file suggestions for
permitting greater number of taxis through Rohtang Pass in
proportion to the number of tourists.

Expressing concern at the rapid pace of degradation of
environment in Himachal, the bench said, “have you seen what
has happened to Kufri. In Kufri we used to have skiing all the
winters, but today there is hardly any ice visible there.
What will you will do to the Rohtang then , will you build a nice
government office there”.

During the hearing, the counsel for Himachal Pradesh
government said the state is worried about the environment and
health of the people and it was complying with the NGT’s
The Himachal Pradesh government further told the Tribunal
The Himachal Pradesh government further told the Tribunal
that it has undertaken several steps for environment
protection including complete polythene ban and removal of 150
local dhabas from Manali-Rohtang areas.

Earlier, the Tribunal had stayed its order to impose an
environmental compensation of Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 on diesel
and petrol-operated tourist vehicles, respectively, for
Rohtang Pass. The tourist vehicles having capacity of more
than five persons were to be charged Rs 5,000 per day.
The 13,050 feet Rohtang pass is situated on the eastern
Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas around 51 km from Manali.

On May 26, the Supreme Court had declined to stay the
directions and had asked the affected parties to address
their grievances before NGT.

The apex court had only stayed one direction of the green
panel that all vehicles would be subjected to pollution checks
and should get certificates at the check post to comply with
BS-IV standards before being allowed to operate in the scenic
Rohtang Pass area.

The NGT in its May 5 order had restricted the number of
vehicles passing through Rohtang Pass for tourism purposes to vehicles passing through Rohtang Pass for tourism purposes to
600 petrol and 400 diesel per day on first-come, first-serve
basis and directed that each vehicle allowed would pay an
environmental cess.

The NGT has said the amount thus collected should be kept
in the account under a separate head by the state government
and utilised only for the purpose of restoring ecology and

It had also directed the state government to post a team
of police, transport and other departments at Vashisht and
Gulaba areas between Manali and Rohtang with complete
infrastructure and machinery.