Himachal to move SC against green tribunal ban at Rohtang Pass

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Shimla, March 16 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday said the state would move the Supreme Court against the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order banning commercial activity at the picturesque tourist spot of Rohtang Pass.

“The state will move the Supreme Court to seek justice if the NGT does not give any respite to them,” the chief minister informed the assembly in reply to the calling attention moved by BJP members Gobind Thakur and Jai Ram Thakur and Himachal Lokhit Party member Maheshwar Singh.

Virbhadra Singh said it was wrong to blame the state government that it did not plead the case of the people before the NGT effectively after it banned tourism activities on the Rohtang Pass.

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“The state has effectively raised the concern of local people affected by the NGT order after filing an affidavit, wherein it contended to re-consider the decision,” he said.

He said the government could approach the Supreme Court only after the NGT gave its final order.

He said he respected the NGT but felt that the order on banning activities between Manali and Rohtang Pass was an overreaction and it should reconsider the decision.

“The state does not agree to the NGT order entirely therefore it may proceed to the Supreme Court, if green bench did not give relief to the affected people,” he held.

Stressing the need to phase out services causing pollution on the Rohtang Pass, the chief minister said not all type of tourism activities were harming the ecology of the Rohtang Pass.

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Transport Minister G.S. Bali said the state government submitted before the NGT that it was not feasible to ply CNG buses on the Rohtang Pass as it was not cost effective.

He said on the issue of CNG vehicles that the additional chief secretary of forests and of transport have already put forth their stand before the NGT.

Earlier, moving the motion, BJP legislator Thakur said the livelihood of local taxi drivers, paragliding operators, river rafting operators had been badly hit due to the order.

He said taxi operators were without any work and many delegations had called on the chief minister and he had assured them to take up the matter to the apex court.

The NGT has imposed a complete ban on commercial activities including paragliding, snow scooter ride and horse-riding at Rohtang Pass and its adjoining areas.

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It has limited the passing of vehicles on the Rohtang Pass, located 52 km from Manali in Kullu district and much frequented by tourists, to check environmental degradation.

Initially, the tribunal had banned all types of tourist vehicles.

Later, it relaxed its order limiting the entry of diesel and petrol tourist vehicles to the Rohtang Pass to 1,000 per day.

The NGT had observed that the ice mass on the Rohtang Pass was reducing rapidly due to vehicular pollution and may vanish altogether in the next 20-25 years.

–Indo-Asian news Service


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