Raising concerns over environmental issues facing the Rohtang pass, a study conducted in 2012 pointed out that air pollution in the region was likely to increase significantly till 2022 due to the burgeoning number of vehicles.
Conducted by the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), the study, which recommended traffic restrictions in the area and regular vehicle fitness tests, was tabled in the state legislative assembly in reply to a question by the BJP's Manali MLA Gobind Thakur on March 12.
The survey also observed the number of vehicles counted on the Manali-Palchen road in end-May in 2012 was 6,359. It also said the number of vehicles plying on the road was expected to increase to 15,000 during the particular period in the wake of growing rate of vehicles in India which is 9%. It also expected increase in automotive emissions due to the increase in vehicles.
The study said the calculated emission of particulate matter, nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide for years 2012 and 2022 without any control for a distance of 43 kilometers from the north of Manali to Rohtang would increase. It added carbon monoxide emissions in 2012 were 56.75 kilograms per day and expected to increase to 133.86 kg per day in 2022.
Similarly, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, which were at the level of 3.11 and 34.03 per kg per day in 2012 was expected to increase to 7.34 and 80.26 kg per day, respectively. It added the Beas rivulet had the highest concentration of chloride owing to vehicular exhaust.
The study said that according to the tourism department around 2200 to 2500 vehicles ply on the highway passing via the Rohtang pass in May and June, the peak tourist season. Meanwhile, the Border Roads Organisation stated 7,331 to 7,376 vehicles plied on the road.
The study said several transportation options were available which would help in reducing energy consumption and vehicular emissions. "These initiatives focus on reducing the use of private vehicles for internal transportation," the study. It also recommended making the vehicle fitness test mandatory. "A fitness centre should be established in Manali and should be managed by trained manpower," it said.