NGT mulls ban on tourism in Rohtang, issues notice to Himachal govt
Lashing out at Himachal Pradesh government for allowing a "traffic chaos" atop the eco- sensitive Rohtang Pass, the National Green Tribunal Monday issued show cause notice to it asking why should not a complete ban be imposed on tourism activities in and around that area.
New Delhi: Lashing out at Himachal Pradesh government for allowing a "traffic chaos" atop the eco- sensitive Rohtang Pass, the National Green Tribunal Monday issued show cause notice to it asking why should not a complete ban be imposed on tourism activities in and around that area.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar took strong objection to the state government's "pathetic" approach in implementing the orders of the Tribunal and allowing traffic chaos to prevail in the popular tourist area.
The green panel ordered the state's chief secretary to file an affidavit within one week as to why it should not order attachment of treasury of the state until complete compliance of the orders of the Tribunal.
It also directed the state government to say why it should not direct attachment of salary and civil imprisonment for non-compliance by state officials, including environment secretary, additional chief secretary information and technology, tourism secretary, Transport secretary, Conservator of Forest, deputy commissioner, Superintendent of police of Kullu.
The directions came while the NGT perused a status report filed by a team of the deputy registrar of the Tribunal along with the local commissioners, who had visited the route between Vashisht (beyond Manali) to Rohtang Pass on June 22.
According to the report, not even a single direction of the Tribunal has been complied with in true spirit. There were around 5,000 tourist vehicles at Rohtang as against the permitted limit of 1,000 per day.
"Check posts were not equipped with proper infrastructure and machinery, there was lack of staff and even computers were not installed at Vashisht and Gulaba.
"It was noted that many tourists were crossing barriers on two-wheelers and they were not stopped for pollution check. There was complete chaos of traffic and the officials posted were untrained," the report said.
It further stated that people who could not get permit were "instigated" to go on two-wheelers to enter Rohtang Pass. Even random checking of vehicles was also not there and no computerised online monitoring at check posts, it said.
According to the report, buses carrying large number of passengers were not stopped for pollution check. There were no eco-toilets and even the existing toilets were not maintained properly and lacked cleanliness.
"There were nearly 100-200 horses carrying tourists and none of them had registration certificates. Horse dung was found everywhere. Glacier at Vyas Kund is reduced to mud puddle due to snow biking. Entire area of Rohtang Pass was found to be dumped with plastic, water bottles, horse dung and other wastes and there was no system in place to collect the waste.
"It has been noticed that 2,500 saplings were planted near Gulaba and only one forest guard was deployed to look after them. There were temporary dhabas, shops etc without any regulation. Plastic bags, kerosene stoves were used in small shops," it said.
The NGT had earlier extended its stay on its order banning entry of all diesel and petrol tourist vehicles till August 14 while limiting the number of vehicles entering the popular area to 1,000 per day.
It had directed each vehicle, permitted to Rohtang Pass, to pay environmental compensation at the rate of Rs 1000 for petrol vehicle and Rs 2500 for diesel vehicle.
The tribunal had also said that each vehicle which carries more than six passengers would be liable to pay compensation of Rs 5,000 as environmental compensation and these charges are payable for single entry.