The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday refused to relax the ban on commercial activities in the Rohtang Pass.
The principal NGT bench comprising Justice Swatanter Kumar and expert member Dr Devendra K Agrawal directed the Himachal Pradesh government to submit a plan for the rehabilitation of families whose livelihood has been affected by the ban. The tribunal also asked the government to hold consultations with stakeholders before compiling its report.
The bench expressed its annoyance over the non-compliance of its ban order, while cautioning state government officers that no effort to undermine the NGT's authority would be tolerated.
The bench issued notices for non-compliance of its order to the secretary, environment; director, tourism; conservator, forest; member secretary, state environment pollution control board; and authorities of the Gobind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kullu. All officers have been told to file the reply within three weeks.
The bench also directed the government to issue computerised permits to vehicles owners and those intending to visit the Rohtang Pass. The record of persons, including photo identity, will be mandatory and those found indulging in malpractices will be debarred from plying vehicles on the Manali-Rohtang Pass. Only one trip will be allowed for Rohtang Pass.
The bench said diesel-operated snow scooters would not be permitted, unless the government submits a report as how a separate track will be created for horses.
The tribunal had set up a committee comprising senior advocate GD Verma, RL Sood, Balwant Singh Thakur and Devender Ghosh to submit a report on the ground situation in the Rohtang Pass. The five-member panel on Thursday placed a report before the tribunal, saying that the NGT order was being blatantly violated. The panel stated that the government had failed to restrict commercial activities at Solangnala and Manali. The panel revealed that adhering to the NGT orders the government had removed the kiosk and road side Dhabas along the way to Rohtang pass.
The panel of lawyers observed though the government had successfully erected a barrier at Vashishth but at the same time it has enable to stop plying of snow scooters and horse ride at Marhi. In its report, the advocate cited that paragliding activities continued in Marhi while it observed that government has failed to carry out afforestation in the area.
The state government had appealed for lifting of the ban. The government had pleaded in wake of tourist season the NGT allows commercial activities and adventure sports. Tribunal flatly refused to amend the orders passed on July 6 and listed the case for hearing on August 17 in New Delhi and September 17 in Shimla before principal bench of the tribunal.