In view of the 10,000 odd visitors to Rohtang Pass during May and July and 3,250 vehicle that ply daily in the region, a report was submitted by National Environmental Engineering Regional Institute (NEERI) to Himachal Pradesh high court. This report drew attention to the fact that snow deposits in the upper valley turned black due to carbon and soot emitted from these vehicles resulting in heavy pollution and early melting of snow.
Seeing the report, National Green Tribunal (NGT) has swung into action and has banned all diesel run tourist vehicles to Rohtang Pass from 1st May 2015. Army vehicles, government vehicles, and private vehicles are exempted from the order.
After hearing Rohtang pollution case on January 21, 2015, NGT has swung into action ordering the State Government to ban Diesel vehicles in Rohtang and to forbid all diesel engined tourist vehicles from entry into Rohtang Pass. In view of preserving its fragile ecology, NGT has also asked authorities to ensure that carbon emissions through petrol vehicles are strictly monitored.
Army vehicles, HRTC buses and private vehicles have been exempted from this order. The issue is however, likely to affect over 900 diesel engined vehicles and over 1,300 diesel-based tourists taxis in the area. The ban comes just ahead of peak tourist season in Kullu and Manali, hitting the tourist vehicles operators hard.
NGT has also asked State Government agencies and departments of environmental protection to ensure that adequate checks are carried out at Gulaba, Vashishta and Manali preventing any such diesel vehicles from entry in the Rohtang Pass region. Petrol run vehicles will be allowed for commercial purposes, but this decision has not been well accepted by locals and tourists as a majority of tourist vehicles are powered by diesel engines.
CNG buses between Vashisht to Rohtang are begin planned with the State Government holding talks with auto majors and GAIL to ensure that these environmentally friendly buses be introduced. Setting up of adequate CNG stations in Manali are also being initiated.
via The Tribune