Green tribunal grants no relief for commercial activities at Rohtang Pass

Shimla: An unrelenting National Green Tribunal today declined to give any relief over commercial activities on the Rohtang Pass route, instead the state authorities was directed to submit a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation plan for the people whose livelihoods dependent upon tourism in the area had been affected.

The green tribunal in a sweeping order last week had decreed a complete ban on all commercial tourism activities which included operating of snow scooters, horse riding, para gliding, snow sledging and other adventure tourism activities.

Photo credit: Manjit Singh
Photo credit: Manjit Singh

The green bench asked the government to consult all stake holders and frame a rehabilitation program for those affected and frame a sustainable tourism plan for the area.

The NGT’s division bench of Justice Swatanter Kumar and member Dr. Devendra K Agrawal, (an environment expert) expressed its displeasure over the Himachal Pradesh government not having implemented its earlier orders.

The bench warned about taking officers to task in their individual capacities over contempt of court for not enforcing the tribunal’s orders regarding restricting number of vehicles to 1000 vehicles per day as directed by an earlier order and for not putting place a transparent mechanism at Manali for checking and issuing of permits.

The bench directed that henceforth computerised permits be issued for vehicles permitted to visit Rohtang Pass. Only one trip be allowed, record of permitted vehicle owners along with photo identity be maintained and rule offenders be debarred from plying on the Manali Rohtang route, the bench ordered. The tribunal asked for placing a status report about complying with its orders within three weeks time.

Earlier advocate general Shravan Dogra, despite making a spirited defence, failed to gain any relief about last week order banning all commerical activities at Rohtang Pass.

Sticking to its stand of not allowing diesel operated snow scooters to operate at any costs, the bench reiterated that only 1000 vehicles, which include 600 petrol and 400 diesel ones, be given tourist permits on a daily basis for visiting Rohtang Pass.

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