The National Green Tribunal today directed the Himachal Pradesh government to file an affidavit and apprise it about the total number of members registered with the taxi association in Kullu and Manali. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the state government to file a detailed reply after proper verification within three days. The direction came on a plea filed by a taxi association against the June 19 order of the NGT which had put a cap on the number of permits to these vehicles. While the taxi association claimed that there were 2,100 taxis, the Himachal government said that there were 2,517 taxis registered. The green panel also sought a status report on the ropeway project on the Manali-Rohtang road and directed senior most official of the state government to be present before it on July 26. It also directed ‘sarpanch’ of the Palchan panchayat, which had opposed the 9 km long Palchan-Rohtang ropeway, to appear before it on the next hearing. On June 19, the tribunal had allowed 100 more tourist vehicles to pass through the eco-sensitive Rohtang pass area.
The panel, which had earlier permitted 800 petrol and 400 diesel vehicles to go beyond Manali on Rohtang Pass road, had allowed more vehicles to the picturesque location to ensure that more tourists are accommodated. “75 per cent of such applications would be granted permits under outside tourist category i.e. the tourist driving their own vehicles from outside Himachal Pradesh. The remaining 25 per cent would be the tourist from other districts of State of Himachal Pradesh… “The other cars will be issued permits for strictly complying with the directions contained in the permit. No taxi or vehicle should reply or take a return trip without crossing the borders and not more than twice a week,” the circuit bench had said.
On the issue of issuing permits, the bench had held that online registration for permits to Rohtang should be opened at 10 am every morning and then again at 4 pm on the same day instead of 12 noon as done earlier. The tribunal had earlier asked the state government to submit a comprehensive report on various aspects including the ropeway, operationalisation of CNG and electric buses, status with regard to afforestation and establishment of the eco-friendly market at Marhi.