The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would examine the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order restricting the number of tourist vehicles to the popular Manali-Rohtang hill station in Himachal Pradesh to 1,000 every day.
The NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar had in its May 5 order also imposed Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 as “environmental compensation fee” on diesel and petrol vehicles that plied in the area.
The green court had also ordered imposition of additional fee of Rs 5,000 on tourist vehicles ferrying more than six passengers. One of the directions — aimed at curbing high levels of pollution in the area — included asking the vehicles to run on CNG and battery.
Initially reluctant to entertain the appeal by taxi operators, a vacation bench headed by Justice AK Sikri agreed to look into the plea after the petitioner’s lawyer, senior advocate Vibha Makhija, told the court the decision would adversely affect thousands of tourist operators and the tourism industry.
Makhija said the green tribunal had spared other private, government and army vehicles from the fee. Mega power and industrial projects, which mainly contribute to the pollution, have also been spared from any punitive action, she contended.