Rohtang Pass: Reply against NGT order has been sought by SC from HP government

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An order was passed by Himachal Pradesh government which had banned the entry of all the petrol and diesel tourist vehicles that limited only up to 1000 vehicles to be allowed in that area in Rohtang pass and so a plea was filed against it challenging the order at Supreme Court and so the apex court has sought response from the Himachal Pradesh government on the said plea. This appeal was filed by a taxi union and thus the vacation bench that comprised of Justice UU Lalit and A K Sikri who issued notice to the state government and later posted the said hearing on May 26. Without hearing other sides no interim order for maintaining the status quo will be passed was confirmed by the bench.

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The order that was passed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the entry of the vehicles was barring the taxi operators and also the middle class tourists who visited the place. This appeal was submitted by Him-Aanchal Taxi Operators Union via their lawyer Vibha Dutt Makhija. As per the order of NGT all the vehicles that were entering the area must be subjected to pollution check and they should get certificates in the check post which complied with BS-IV standards but the lawyer representing the taxi operators told that such kind of petrol pump was not available in the state. There was an environment cess that was charged on the vehicles and for each trip it amounted to Rupees 2,500 for diesel vehicles and Rupees 1,000 for petrol vehicles between Manali and Rohtang Pass.  This place Rohtang is located in the Pir Panjal Range of Himachal at a height of 13,400 feet which is nearly 51 kilometres from Manali and it acts as a gateway from Kulu Valley to Lahaul.  The number of vehicles passing through Rohtang Pass has been restricted by NGT for tourism purposes to 400 diesel and 600 petrol vehicles on first-come first serve basis and also has said that every vehicle that passes the area should pay the environmental cess. NGT further stated that the amount collected from cess will be kept under separate head by the state government and used for restoring the environment and ecology. Every vehicle that carries six passengers and more should pay compensation of 5000 rupees as environmental compensation for each entry.

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by Sushma Javare.