After extending the deadline on the ban it had imposed on diesel run tourist vehicles on the Leh-Manali Road by three months, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has now directed the Himachal government and GAIL, the state-owned natural gas processing and distribution firm, to ensure CNG (compressed natural gas) supply to Himachal through tankers in Nangal and Manali.
Earlier on May 5 the tribunal's principal bench made a temporary arrangement but also expressed its "dissatisfaction" with the action taken by the state government to comply with its previous order. "Though we are not satisfied with the action taken by the Himachal Pradesh government in pursuance to our previous order, on the statement made by the additional chief secretary, who was personally present before the tribunal, and in the interest of justice we would expect that commitments arising out of the statement made on behalf of the Himachal Pradesh government are fulfilled," read the tribunal's order passed on May 5.
On behalf of the state government it was submitted that the tourist season would commence soon and the tribunal's order banning diesel vehicles plied by tourist operators vehicles to enter the Rohtang Pass may therefore, be deferred on a short term basis for three months. "After the three month period is over the temporary ban, as contained herein and specifically ordered on February 6th, 2014, shall come into force," read the order.
The tribunal also asked the additional chief secretary to convene a meeting of vehicle manufacturers to discuss adequate supply of CNG run vehicles to ensure air least pollution levels in the ecosensitive area of Rohtang Pass were kept to the bare minimum. The tribunal also directed the state government to take up the issue of supply of BS-IV fuel to Himachal with the petroleum ministry.
Officials of the central environment ministry and GAIL also submitted they would be able to provide regulatory clearances for conversion of land and setting up a CNG station in Nangal.
Posting the matter for the next hearing to May 25, the National Green Tribunal said vehicles plying on the Leh-Manali via the Rohtang Pass would be required to comply with the prescribed auto emission standards and would not be permitted to carry goods in excess of the permissible load.