CNG buses for Rohtang not feasible – Himachal CM differs with Green Tribunal

Manali: Differing with the interim orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), chief minister Virbhadra Singh stated forth that while the state government was in favour of environment protection, but the problems of the residents would also be considered before enforcing or passing any order.

Where NGT is attempting to restrict control of petrol and diesel vehicles plying to Rohtang Pass and asking for introduction of CNG vehicles, the chief minister said here, “the proposal to ply CNG buses on the Manali-Rohtang route was not feasible as Rohtang was not the dead end of the highway. Moreover environment concern was not the problem at only Rohtang Pass.

“The same route further connects Lahaul, Spiti, Pangi and Ladakh valleys that will also have significant impact of running CNG buses till Rohtang,” said Virbhadra Singh.

At Manali
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh at Manali

 

The chief minister was speaking to a delegation of hotel owners, taxi operators, tourism entrepreneurs and the residents of Manali who have sought intervention of the state government for obtaining them relief from the orders passed by the National Green Tribunal.

The Tribunal is pushing the state government to run CNG operated buses on the Manali-Rohtang route so as to cause minimal environment damage to the high altitude eco-system.

On the other hand, thousands of residents, who are dependent on tourism for their livelihood, are opposing both introduction of CNG buses and construction of the ropeway project.

The chief minister said that the ropeway project to Rohtang would be considered only if it is in the interest of both environment and public.

“We shall take up the matter with the NGT, the Centre and if need arises also with Supreme Court,” said Virbhadra Singh.

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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1 Comment

  1. says: Avay Shukla

    Mr. Virbhadra Singh appears to be mortgaging the sustainable future of the Kullu valley( particularly Manali and the Rohtang pass) to a typically cheap populist sentiment. If 5000 vehicles continue to ply to Rohtang every day nothing can save this grand feature from total destruction in few years. The only long term remedy for this is a high speed, high volume ropeway to Rohtang, which was suggested seven years ago and whose technical and financial studies have already been carried out and both have been found to be eminently positive. The lack of will on the part of the government to implement this project is criminal and highly irresponsible-the livelihood of a couple of hundred taxi operators is not more important than preserving the environment of the valley and its surrounding mountain features. Successive governments in Himachal have destroyed just about every tourist destination in the state through lack of vision, populism, pusillanimity and sheer avarice. There is still time to save Manali and Rohtang but the window is shrinking. The Green Tribunal should be firm in the matter and should show some resolve in getting its order implemented( something which it has not demonstrated so far).

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