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NGT declines to relax ban on tourist activities in Rohtang

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Photo: http://www.rohtangla.com/
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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.

Photo Credit: http://www.rohtangla.com/
Photo Credit: http://www.rohtangla.com/

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.

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Star ICC Asks Anonymous Accuser Of Sexual Assault Charges To Step Forward

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were "clear instructions" given to make the sales team fulfil the targets.

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Star ICC
#MeToo: Star India internal panel writes to anonymous accuser to come forward

The Internal Complaints Committee of Star India on Sexual Harassment (Star ICC) has written to the anonymous accuser — who had alleged “sexual exploitation” of women employees — asking her to reach out to the committee or its external member on allegations made by her in tweets.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Star ICC, formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 said it had reached out to the accuser through two emails on the ID provided by her through her tweets. The committee’s external member is Veena Gowda, a Mumbai-based woman rights lawyer.

The accuser, who tweeted through handle @ApurvaS17 — saying she would remain anonymous — had made sexual harassment allegations against the company’s officials in an open letter.

Star ICC
Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt.

Asked to comment on the allegations, a Star India spokesperson said in a statement that despite no response by the anonymous accuser to the messages sent, the Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy” in respect of the allegations.

“We strongly urge any genuine complainant to approach the Star ICC. At Star, we stand with women in drawing the line on any behaviour that violates human dignity or the ability for women to pursue their dreams with respect and freedom. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment,” read the statement in response to an email query by IANS.

It also said that the anonymous tweet shared on October 13 raised an allegation that “runs completely counter to everything we believe in and the norms and values that we deeply embrace.”

The statement further said: “Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt to malign and defame the reputation of the company and the CEO.” It said that Star reserves its right to initiate appropriate legal proceedings in this regard.

Star ICC
The Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy.

The accuser in her tweets had said that the #MeToo movement had encouraged her to come forward and that she had quit her job at Star India in the Airtime Sales section after 26 months and nine days and was now a homemaker, “taking care of my baby and hubby in a beautiful country, far away from Mumbai.”

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were “clear instructions” given to make the sales team fulfil the targets in case they want to continue with their employment contract, “for which even if you have to take the clients to a hotel room and sleep with them for days.”

She said there were many instances when she and three of her female colleagues (interns) had clear instructions to reach a hotel after office hours for a private party hosted for influential friends.

Also Read: India’s Junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar Quits Following #MeToo Harassment Allegation By Women

She says the influential friends were “mostly bureaucrats and sometimes politicians and foreign nationals” who were “all ready to violate you, force you to dance against your wishes, drink with them, make drink(s) for them, exchange your numbers and even quietly accompany them to their respective rooms if they want you to”.

Veteran writer-director Vinta Nanda, who earlier this month accused actor Alok Nath of sexually violating her 19 years ago, wrote on Twitter: “I’m neither shocked nor surprised. I salute your courage to have come out and spoken out. The rot runs deep.” (IANS)