Heeding to the plea that the ban on commercial activities in the eco-sensitive Rohtang Pass area is affecting the livelihood of people, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought a response from the Himachal Pradesh government on the issue.
A bench headed by justice Swatanter Kumar issued a notice to the Himachal Pradesh government, the HP pollution control board and others on the plea of the women from local villages near the Rohtang Pass area. The women -- Panchang, Kothi, Solang Kulang and Ruar, said as a result of the ban on all activities at the 13,050 feet high pass, they had been rendered completely jobless and were leading miserable lives.
“It has become extremely difficult in such a state to sustain the family and kids. The applicants have neither been rehabilitated, nor have they been provided any interim compensation by the state government,” the plea said.
The petition further contended that the “applicants had played an important role in bringing up their families by earning livelihood from small-time tourism related activities (non-polluting), like renting folk/local/traditional dresses, snow dresses, walking sticks, giving pets and yak to tourists on minimal rent for photography and by selling homemade tea and snacks.”
Advocate Bhakti Pasrija Sethi, who filed a case on the behalf of these women, alleged that the state authorities were evicting the locals from such activities without devising any concrete plan for their rehabilitation.
“I personally visited Rohtang pass last month and met the women from the villages in the nearby area. Their livelihood has been seriously affected due to the ban orders,” Bhakti said.
“The applicants may be permitted to continue with their non-polluting activities at Rohtang pass in consonance with the relief and rehabilitation plan submitted by the deputy commissioner, Kullu, to the state government,” the plea said.
On July 16, the green panel had asked the state to hold consultations with all stakeholders, whose livelihood would be affected by the ban on commercial activities and frame a rehabilitation plan to re-engage them in alternative employments and sustainable tourism.
The green court had earlier extended the stay on its order, banning the entry of all diesel and petrol tourist vehicles, while limiting the number of vehicles entering the area to 1,000 per day.
It had directed each vehicle going to Rohtang Pass to pay an environmental compensation at the rate of `1000 for petrol vehicles, and Rs 2500 for diesel vehicles.
The tribunal also said vehicles carrying more than six passengers would be liable to pay an environmental compensation of Rs 5,000 and these charges were payable for single entry.