Manali: Ravaged each year by growing number of tourists headed for Rohtang Pass, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the state government to take serious steps for conservation of the fragile environment around the high altitude pass, especially in regulating traffic, construction of toilets, opening of eateries and disposal of human waste and garbage.
Briefing local stakeholders, which included representatives of a booming tourism industry in the Kullu valley, about the directive to the state, top district administration officer Rakesh Kanwar here said that in its February 6 order the state had been given 3 months to comply with the NGT order.
He said that any individual, organization or group of people who was not party to the case could seek clarifications by approaching NGT within the three month span.
“The orders which are to come into force from May 6 make it mandatory for whoever, be they residents of Lahaul, crosses Rohtang Pass in a vehicle would have to take permission from the district administration,” disclosed Kanwar.
“Taking the environment into consideration, we are reviewing all aspects including the feasibility into account. A report would be prepared and placed before the tribunal, he added.
The Green Tribunal has also directed for exploring the possibility for introducing CNG and electric vehicles on the Manali – Rohtang road.
“As we do not have any such facility, the administration will bring it to the notice of the state government said Kanwar.
The Green Tribunal has suggested for installing a barrier near Vashisht village, where an environment fee of Rs 20 per person from those headed to Rohtang Pass has to be collected.
As Manali was already levying green tax on all non-Himachali vehicles entering the town, Kanwar said government would be requested not to impose double taxes on tourists.
No commercial activity would be allowed beyond Vashist barrier to Marhi and from Marhi to Rothang Pass. The Tourism Department has to set up an eco-friendly market at Marhi. The forest department has been directed to ensure the greenery at and around the pass, said the officer.
The district administration has been directed to build more toilets for the convenience of the tourists and with the help of civic authorities collect and dispose-off all the garbage from the tourist places.
Petrol or diesel-run snow scooters would not be allowed and all vehicles older than 10 years would not be allowed to ply the Manali-Rohtang highway including surroundings of Manali.
Only CNG fuel or electric operated vehicles or vehicles with BS-4 Standard, BS-3 diesel vehicle with suit collector and petrol with catalytic convertor are to be allowed to ply on the Manali-Rohtang highway, Manali town and its neighborhood.
Kanwar said that implementation of these directions are to be made for a better experience to the visiting tourist and for conserving the local environment.
Increasing number of tourists headed for Rohtang Pass are having a lasting impact on the destination environment for it year after year has to support a population more than the carrying capacity of the destination.