Green Tribunal Sets Stiff Norms For Conserving Rohtang Pass

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.

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.

File Photo: A Crowded Rohtang Pass
File Photo: A Crowded Rohtang Pass

 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.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

Join the Conversation

7 Comments

  1. says: Avay Shukla

    Although the article does not give details of the measures mandated by the NGT, the few steps mentioned are wholly inadequate to preserve the natural landscape beyond Palchan. The basic issue-of reducing vehicular traffic to the pass-does not appear to have been addressed in the NGT order. During the season as many as 5000-7000 vehicles go to the pass everyday, and it is this number that has to be controlled. Merely asking people to obtain permission before proceeding or checking to see if the vehicles are Bharat 3 or 4 or whether the engines are diesel or petrol will only cause a regulatory nightmare, gridlock the traffic at the barriers and inconvenience people to no end. These are typical cosmetic prescriptions which does the NGT no credit and the Rohtang pass no favours.
    In 2010 the HP High Court had appointed me as a one-man Committee ( I was then the Addl. CS Forests) to recommend measures to tackle the problem of vehicular congestion and pollution at the Pass. Among others, I had made two major recommendations:
    (1) Completely ban the plying of private vehicles( including taxis) to Rohtang and replace them with buses( preferably electric) to be operated by the HP Tourism Development Corp. One bus is equivalent to at least 10 cars and this would result in an immediate reduction in the number of vehicles going to the Pass. Funding was never a problem- the Kullu Deputy Commissioner has at least Rupees Ten crores lying with him( collections from the Green Tax at Manali) which could finance the purchase of the buses.
    (2) Fast-track the pending proposal for building a rope-way from Palchan to Rohtang under PPP. The project’s financial and technical feasibility reports have been lying with the govt. since 2010, and both are extremely positive. Once the rope-way is operational even the buses would not be needed.
    This report appears to have been moth balled!
    The dhabas at Marhi are all encroachments on forest land and one of the biggest sources of pollution in that area. They need to be completely removed: no amount of garbage collection will help.
    There is local opposition to all the above steps because of vested interests of hoteliers,taxi operators and shopkeepers. But the NGT and the High Court have to over-ride this in the larger interest of conserving this beautiful part of the valley and the wonder that is Rohtang. It cannot be left to the state govt. which has neither the will nor the vision to see beyond a few votes.

  2. says: kullu gang

    I agree with Avay all the proposals they have put forward are pointless and will not solve a problem that has been getting out of control for over 10 years. A train network to Manali should have been constructed decades ago with a complete ban on tourist vehicles from Ani. Only twenty years ago you could only catch a dreadful bus to get to Kullu and Mananli and the onlycars you saw was goverment vehicles. Alas there is no rail network and due to unorganized planning over the years I can not see a route for one now. The Kullu Valley could have been one of the most beautiful places to go to but is now becoming ugly as the decrease in foreign tourists shows. The local fetish for concrete buildings has now created the need for a cement plant to be built ,where as you could have had a forest industry supplying timber for local styled buildings like the hotel on the road to Manikaran which must be the best hotel in Himachal. If these decisions in planning was more organized then Manali and the Rothang problem would not exist today, now there is a monumental task of trying to get organised. CNG Buses or a electric tram system would be a massive leap forward so that no private vehicles clog the road and town up . To stop corruption and arguments on the rights of who could have a business interest at Mahri a complex like the one on the Manikaran road should be built for people to stay and eat including a enviromental education centre. This should be run as a non profitable organisation with any profits going to a enviromental educational fund after the initial funding has been paid back. More importantly the Rothang Pass is one of the worlds most dangerous roads which makes it quite unbelievable that with the minimal of training or a bribe to the RTO you can get a licence and head up to the Rothang. In the meantime make it compulsory for any one to drive up there to have a advance all terrain driving license which you can not obtain with a bribe.

  3. says: ramesh

    Electric buses cant climb rohtang.there could be shuttle bus service from Manali to rohtang ana back for 12 hrs after every 15 minutes.

  4. says: George Kurian

    To have environment policies done strictly the department of environment should be under the PMO in delhi.

  5. says: deepak bhanoo

    Rohtang possesses no natural galaciar ,if green tribunal has noticed that .every local have their legal rights according to our laws you cann’t make a law by just sitting in opposite end of the country .you need to think upon these points –
    •infrastructure of rohtang is not that good you people can run CNG vehicle there .
    •-40 c temperature is not feasible for CNG itself .
    •approximate millions of vehicles run every day in Delhi and mumbai like cities why are the ignored under green tribunal ??

  6. says: Ronnie

    Whosoever is at the helm of affairs in green tribunal is either from Solomon Islands blissfully blind to the ground realities that exist in Manali at large and Rohtang in particular or is playing hand in glove with the local elites and politicians.Such out of the way law-bypassing strictures point at an arrangement based on corrupt practices commonplace in India.Green tribunal vs Manali-Rohtang case bears testimony to this.
    Let’s look at the facts:
    1.There are no glaciers in or around Rohtang
    2. Manali receives big time tourists in summers alone
    3. Poor infrastructure
    3. Himachal at large and Manali in Particular have no CNG depots.
    4. Lame bureaucrats
    5. Blind media
    6. Helpless self-employed/unemployed youth who lack cohesiveness and utterance
    7. Poor and lame leadership that lacks in vision and fail to lend voice to such issues
    8. Imperialism
    Such regulatory actions are quixotic and unrealistic that lack in pragmatism but give rise to far reaching socio-economic consequences which lead to disillusionment among the youth and only create hurdles in their struggle for a better living and a social security of their own.
    It seems like all that govt. Orgs. Can do is perpetuate poverty and unemployment.while the coffers of few are growing unquestionably.
    It also can’t be ignored that May be all this is a prior setup for upcoming controversial ski village.Areas around Rohtang have been surveyed recently for the same.If it is so than Manali should brace itself for polarisation to take place in its only industry,Tourism,as big game players have already arrived.

  7. says: Col Prem Chand, Kc,Sm,VSM

    I am a retired decorated officer from vill:Lindur in Lahoul and Spiti. I am in my 73rd year of exixtence on this mother earth. I am a proud Tribal, Proud Indian Army veteran and PROUD INDIAN. The recent order of the SDM Manai/Distt Administration Distt Kullu/Govt of Himachal Pradesh asking me/us from Lahoul and Spiti to seek PERMISSION to cross Rohtang Pass to visit our home and Distt has GRAVELY HURT MY SELF ESTEEM/PRIDE IN MY NATIONALITY AS INDIAN AND HAS DEEPLY INTERFERED WITH MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. BEING A TRIBAL AND FROM A BORDER DISTT OF THE STATE AND COUNTRY THE GREEN TRIBUNAL AND THE CONCERNED ADMINISTRATION NEED TO REVIEW THE SITUATION ON TOP REPEAT TOP PRIORITY BEFORE THE ORDER ISSUED IMPACTS US AND OUR EMOTION ADVERSELY. THIS ISSUE NEEDS IMMEDIATE ATTENTION AND RECTIFICATION > IT IS BEYOND OUR COMPREHENSION THAT WE AS INDIANS NEED PERMISSION FROM A SDM TO GO HOME> ROHTANG PASS IS OUR LIFE LINE SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL AND IT IS ALSO THE ONLY DOOR AVAILABLE TO US TO OUTSIDE WORLD AND WITH OUR STATE AND COUNTRY. HOW CAN A WELFARE STATE?SYSTEM TREAT US IN THE MANNER STATED. COL Prem

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.