The Centre on Wednesday supported the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order restricting entry of vehicles in the Rohtang Pass area. It told the Supreme Court the cap is in the interest of ecology.
However, the Himachal Pradesh government opposed NGT’s May 10 order that allows only 1,200 vehicles, including 400 diesel cars, to drive upto the 13,050 feet high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, a favourite summer tourist destination in the State. The state said the number of cars allowed were too less for the 35 lakh tourists expected to visit the place this year.
Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar told a vacation bench headed by Justice AM Sapre that the green panel’s capping order was right. “The order encompasses every aspect related to ecology. It is important to monitor tourist activity,” he told the bench, which was hearing a petition filed by commercial taxi operators assailing the green panel directions. The operators, who are locals of the area, claim to have lost a source of livelihood after the tribunal order.
The NGT order directs both the Centre and State to work towards providing CNG stations so that commercial vehicles can start operating on green fuel. Kumar said the NDA government was willing to provide the finances but for that the Virbhadra Singh government must submit a business model first. However, the state counsel differed. He asked for a stay of the NGT order on the ground the state will face difficulties in implementing it.
The bench, however, asked all the stakeholders to give their suggestions to evolve a viable solution to the taxi operators’ problems and fixed May 23 to hear the matter.