Manali: The Rohtang Pass was opened for vehicular traffic and tourists on Thursday after having remained closed for five months.
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Ashutosh Garg issued an order on Thursday allowing tourist vehicles to go to the 13,058 feet high Rohtang Pass that connects Kullu valley with the tribal-district of Lahaul.
“Arrangements for issuing online permits are in place, and vehicles can get the permit without any delays,” Kullu Deputy Commissioner Ashutosh Garg said.
He said the permit system was put in place as per directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which took serious note of vehicular pollution in the area. Now only 800 petrol and 400 diesel vehicles are allowed per day at the pass, the officer said.
The administration charges Rs 500 as permit fee and Rs 50 as congestion fee. The online system has been introduced to avoid irregularities in granting permits, which are issued on a first-come-first-serve basis, said Garg.
Manali SDM Surender Thakur carried out an inspection of the road Wednesday and found that movement of vehicles on this route could be allowed. On the basis of the report submitted by him the Kullu Deputy Commissioner issued orders, giving permission for movement of all types of vehicles up to Rohtang Pass. The movement of vehicles towards the Pass will, however, depend upon the weather conditions prevailing on the day.
The BRO had launched the snow-clearing operation on the Manali-Rohtang road on April 8. However, the snow had already melted up to Gulaba. A joint team of the administration, police and Manali Municipal Committee carried out an inspection on April 10 to allow tourist vehicles till Gulaba beyond Kothi. The Kullu administration had reopened tourist hotspot Marhi, midway between Manali and the Rohtang Pass on April 15.
Those associated with the tourism industry were glad with the opening of the Rohtang Pass for tourists. A big attraction amongst the tourists, Rohtang Pass is the backbone of the tourism industry in Manali. The tourists can have fun and enjoy various adventure activities in the snow on the mighty Pass even in the month of June and July.
Hotelier Budhi Prakash Thakur said that the tourism department should ensure that the existing tourist attractions are preserved and infrastructure is upgraded in tourist hotspots to facilitate tourists. He demanded that more tourist spots should be developed around Manali to sustain the economy of the region.
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.