Manali Rohtang Green Tax In 3 Months Collects Rs 49 Lakhs

To keep the scenic area clean of litter and garbage, regular cleaning operations were being carried out by Mahila Mandal, who have been contracted out the job, says the Manali Magistrate

Manali: In three months the administrative mechanism set up to keep Rohtang Pass free of pollutants, the authority has collected Rs 49 Lakhs as congestion charges.

The charge imposed the directions of National Green Tribunal started collections in June at the Rohtang Pass barrier set up at Vashisht village, Vinay Dhiman, sub-divisional magistrate Manali disclosed.

He said that about 5000 vehicles head for the pass on a daily basis. “Regular pollution checking is being done the HP State Pollution Control Board to contain vehicular pollution at Rohtang”, he said.

To keep the scenic area clean of litter and garbage, regular cleaning operations were being carried out by Mahila Mandal, who have been contracted out the job, he added.

No eco friendly permanent structure had been constructed now because lack of man power and pending necessary clearances by the state forest department.

The magistrate said that 14 person who had obtained an intern relief order from the Supreme Court were operating food stalls at Marhi to cater to the needs of tourists, said Dhiman. Issuing of permits to horse owners for them to offer pony rides was being processed.

The Manali magistrate denied that black snow at Rohtang Pass was not due to vehicular pollution but it was due to geological reasons as the strata on the range was sedimentary.

The administrators’ views apart, National Green Tribunal on taking cognizance about pollution posing a threat to the Rohtang Pass fragile ecosystem, on its own motion, is holding hearing in a case registered by it.

At its 13 August, 2014 hearing 13, NGT bench observed that the report submitted by Principal Secretary environment science and technology did not address the requirements contained in an NGT order as well as its implementation.

“Before any further order is passed, either for non-compliance or for clarification of the directions, it is necessary for the bench to have facts as existing at the site before the tribunal,” the order said.

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

The tribunal had directed the state government to take all effective steps to ensure compliance of the February 6 order, especially one relating to use of CNG vehicles and prohibition of other vehicles going up to Rohtang Pass.

The case now stands listed for 16 October, 2014.

NGT circuit bench at Shimla, including chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, Justice M S Nambiar, D K Agarwal and R C Trivedi, have constituted a panel that includes senior advocate Rakeshwar Lal Sood, advocate Dibender Ghosh, advocate Balwant Singh Thakur and senior advocate G D Verma to visit Manali, Rohtang Pass, Vashisht, Marhi and Khothi to report on the compliance to 6 February, 2014 order.

The tribunal also directed the state government to provide assistance and means for this panel to inspect the Pass region.

In its February order the tribunal had directed for restricting vehicular access to Rohtang Pass by issuing permits, but when resident of Lahaul – Spiti, who use the pass route to access landlocked valleys, NGT retraced and permitted the state government to use discretion in issuing permits to permanent residents.

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.

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