Shimla, (IANS) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday declined to relax its recent order banning all tourist activities in and around the Rohtang Pass overlooking the picturesque tourist resort Manali, to check environmental degradation.
A two-member bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, issued a show-cause notice to the Himachal government, asking them about the steps initiated to prohibit commercial activities after its July 7 order.
Listing the case for next hearing on August 13, the bench asked the government to come out with a rehabilitation policy for the people, mostly from the hospitality industry, going to be affected by the ban.
Earlier, the tribunal banned horse-riding, snow-biking, paragliding, and plying of snow scooters at Rohtang, Solang, and Marhi and also ordered closure of eateries and kiosks.
The tribunal said the ban on tourist activity would help check environmental degradation and melting of the glaciers in the region which were receding at the rate of 20 metres a year since 1986.
“Except water, everything else should be prohibited in and around the Rohtang Pass,” it observed.
Citing an experts’ status report, the tribunal said heavy increase in tourist inflow was adversely affecting the glaciers and environment.
“The entire snow on the roadside from Manali to Rohtang had turned black. The pollution and high emission have even blackened the snow at nearby mountains. The orders of the tribunal are being abused at their will. Prima facie, we have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the state has failed to carry out the directions issued by the tribunal,” the report said.
“There is a right to tourism, but it has to be within the framework of the Constitution where the fundamental right of the public at large (to life and liberty) in terms of Article 21 has to take precedence,” the tribunal said.
The tribunal has also limited the entry of diesel and petrol tourist vehicles to the Rohtang Pass to 1,000 per day.