Himachal Pradesh government recently submitted an affidavit to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), urging it to allow entry of more vehicles to Rohtang Pass — the gateway to tribal Lahaul and Spiti district of the state — during the tourist season.
The government’s environment department, though the affidavit, has suggested the NGT to allow 2,000 vehicles, in two separate shifts, during the tourist season to facilitate people visiting the Pass. The government has proposed that 1,000 vehicles could be allowed in the first shift, while the remaining 1,000 in the second one. The government also maintained that the level of air pollution in Rohtang was within the permissible limits. Besides, it also claimed to have permanent air monitoring station that could assess the air quality on a regular basis.
The government also suggested the NGT that the number of vehicles could be cut down off-season. It also proposed to increase congestion fee on vehicles as per the type of fuel being used to run the car. It suggested that the fee could be high for diesel vehicles, while less for petrol vehicles and minimal for cars running on compressed natural gas. The government also suggested that the fee could be cut down during the off-season.
The government maintained it would be for it to bear the cost of the CNG. It rather asked the green tribunal to provide subsidy on CNG.
The government has agreed to regulate the movement of snow scooters. Besides, it also stressed upon developing new tourist destinations to ease tourist pressure on Rohtang Pass. The government also emphasised that there was no need for displacing persons running commercial activities as it would deprive them of livelihood. Apart from that, the government also maintained that the state had taken adequate measures to protect the environment.
The government also submitted a relief and rehabilitation plan for people affected by the ban on commercial activities at Rohtang Pass.
The NGT, in its orders passed on July 7, had demanded end to commercial activities including, snow scooters, horses riding, sledges and skiing, at Rohtang Pass and its adjoining areas. The move affected over 4,000 families in nine villages under Manali sub-division.
The government has apprised the green tribunal about steps being taken to check environmental degradation at Rohtang Pass. It revealed that 100 toilets had been set up to facilitate the visitors at the Pass.
Dec15 - NGT fixes Rs 500 permit fee per vehicles
Dec 11 - NGT allows entry of only 500 petrol vehicles
August19 - NGT’s ban on plying vehicles to Rohtang was relaxed till Nov 30
July - NGT bans all commercial activities
May5 - NGT permits 1,000 vehicles, including 400 diesel vehicles, daily entry