Irked with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order prohibiting plying of tourist vehicles towards the Rohtang Pass, taxi operators and hoteliers of Kullu and Manali have threatened to launch a massive protest if the state government fails to take up their demands with the tribunal.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Manali Taxi Operators’ Union general secretary Makardhwaj Sharma said, “We have given a memorandum to chief minister Virbhadra Singh through Manali SDM Jyoti Gupta and urged him to take up our concerns with the NGT, otherwise we will be forced to take to the streets.”
“We have given a three-day ultimatum to the state government because the ban will cause lasting damage to the tourism industry of Kullu district, which is already bearing the brunt of other NGT orders in the district,” he added.
Kullu deputy commissioner (DC) Rakesh Kanwar said the state government would file a review petition before the NGT on August 18 at Delhi to review its order for the welfare of people of the district.
According to locals, majority of tourists visit Kullu-Manali to enjoy the scenic beauty of Rohtang Pass, and the ban would definitely affect tourist arrivals in the district.
On Sunday, the DC had issued fresh directions that no tourist vehicles would be allowed towards Rohtang Pass for an indefinite period as the temporary relief given by the NGT on May 5 was not extended during a hearing on August 13.
Meanwhile, to protect the livelihood of taxi operators in Kullu and Manali, the state government is mulling to convert their vehicles into CNG.
Himachal transport minister GS Bali said as per the directions of the NGT, the state government would run Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses in Manali for tourism, which would affect the business of taxi operators.