Manali: The inkling of obeying to National Green Tribunal (NGT) orders to replace petrol and diesel vehicles by electric and CNG vehicles in an effort towards preserve the ecology of Rohtang pass has pondered heavily on an agriculturist of Manali village who bought an electric vehicle not knowing that he would face immense difficulty in getting his vehicle registered.
Encouraged by Himachal Pradesh government’s statement before NGT that it will exempt all electrical vehicles for registration charges, token tax and VAT to promote eco-friendly transport services in the state, Budhi Prakash Thakur, a resident of Khakhnal village near Manali, bought an electric vehicle recently this month.
The gratified owner of the first electric vehicle of the region, Budhi, who also runs a hotel near Manali, carried out test drive on precipitous roads of Manali, including the area restricted by NGT Rohtang. The trials were successful of electric vehicle with load of five passengers climbed height of 13,000 plus the without any problem. But, as per sources, despite NGT order to allow electric and CNG vehicles to ply on the restricted route between Manali and Rohtang, Thakur was made to obtain special permit like other vehicles.
Budhi Thakur after successful trial moved to regional licensing authority office in Manali for registration of his vehicle, but Manali sub-divisional magistrate failed to get the special vehicle registered under special Motor Vehicle Act. Budhi Prakesh was then sent to deputy commissioner office to find solution to register an electric vehicle which has no engine and chassis number like conventional vehicles.
The deputy commissioner also could not help Budhi and he was told to talk to tourism department if they have any norm to register vehicle locally. Poor man knocked on the doors of the tourism department office, but was again disappointed. He is still searching for a way to register his electric vehicle.
“I am now totally confused and it seems like I have made a mistake by buying this vehicle after spending all my savings. I have talked to all senior officers and technical wings of transport department in Shimla. Nobody is able to register my vehicle,” Budhi said.
Earlier, he assumed that the government officers will applaud him for this initiative and they will help him in getting his vehicle registered as NGT has ordered to run only electric and CNG vehicles on Rohtang road. “I was wrong. Nobody seems to be in favour of eco-friendly vehicle. Nobody is guiding me and nobody is helping me.”
Cost of this electric vehicle, also known as low speed vehicle (LSV), after including all expenses till date has crossed Rs 7 lakh. O P Puri, assistant commissioner in technical wing of transport department, said any vehicle, even if it is electric vehicle, should have passed safety norms and all parameters according to Central Motor Vehicle Act.
Budhi prakesh Thakur, talking to Hillpost disclosed that if his vehicle cannot be registered under Motor Vehicles 1Act, it should be registered by tourism department alike to dozens of all-terrain vehicles running in the valley. According to sources, there was a special provision under which some electric vehicles were not required to be registered under Motor Vehicles Act.
Himachal Pradesh government, under directives of NGT, has floated tenders to buy 25 electric buses, and there is a plan to buy 50 more such buses. After complete restriction on running petrol and diesel vehicles on Manali-Rohtang road, NGT has given temporary relief to limited number of vehicles to run on this route. NGT is encouraging government and people like Budhi to buy electric and CNG vehicles.
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.