Tourists to pay green tax to cross Himachal’s Rohtang Tunnel
Decision aimed at developing infrastructure and checking littering along the national highway in Lahaul-Spiti district
The Himachal Pradesh government started charging green tax from tourist vehicles entering Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass from September 10.
Two-wheeler riders will be charged ₹50, while ₹200 will be taken from cars, ₹300 from SUVs and MUVs and ₹500 from buses and trucks.
Not only Lahaul but vehicles going to Kishtwar and Pangi will also need to pay the tax. Vehicles entering Lahaul on a regular basis will be exempt from paying the tax but will need to carry a pass.
The tax will be collected at the barrier set up at Sissu in Lahaul by the Special Area Development Authority.
Preserving heritage, fragile ecology
The amount collected will be spent on developing infrastructure for tourists along the national highway that connects Manali with Leh. Villages in the vicinity of the highway will also be developed.
The influx of tourists after Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the tunnel to the nation last October has thrown new challenges, prompting calls for tighter controls to preserve the cultural heritage and fragile ecology of one of Himachal Pradesh’s remotest regions.
Limited infrastructure a challenge
With limited infrastructure, it is becoming a challenge to check littering by tourists along the stretch between Manali and Keylong.
“Littering is one of the major problems that emerged after the Rohtang tunnel was thrown open. We have lots of tourists coming in the valley. The garbage is lifted by the agencies outside the valley,” said Lahaul and Spiti deputy commissioner Neeraj Kumar.
Since there are no dustbins on the route and the garbage on the roadside slides down the hills with rain, polluting the rivers. In the absence of toilets, travellers and truckers defecate in the open.
Last year, as a first step, the Sissu panchayat near the north portal of the tunnel imposed a fine of ₹1,000 for littering.
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