Heeding to the plea that the ban on commercial activities in the eco-sensitive Rohtang Pass area was affecting the livelihood of people, the National Green Tribunal has sought response from the Himachal Pradesh government on the issue.
A bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to the Himachal Pradesh government, HP pollution control board and others on the plea of women from villages located near the Rohtang Pass area.
The women from villages — Panchang, Kothi, Solang Kulang and Ruar– said as a result of the ban on all activities at the 13,050 feet pass, they have been rendered completely jobless and were leading miserable life.
“It has become extremely difficult in such a state to sustain the family and kids. The applicants have neither been rehabilitated, nor have they been provided any interim compensation by the state government,” the plea said.
The petition further contends that the “applicants had been playing an important role in bringing up their families by earning the livelihood from small-time tourism related activities (non-polluting) like renting folk/local/traditional dress, snow dress, walking sticks to tourists, giving pets and yak to tourists on minimal rent for photography and by selling homemade tea and snacks”.
Advocate Bhakti Pasrija Sethi, who has filed the case on behalf of these women, alleged that the state authorities were evicting the locals from such activities without devising any concrete plan for their rehabilitation.
“I personally visited Rohtang pass area last month and met the women from the villages in the nearby area. Their livelihood has been seriously affected due to the ban orders,” Advocate Bhakti told PTI.
“The applicants may be permitted to continue with their non-polluting activities at Rohtang pass in consonance with the Relief and Rehabilitation Plan submitted by the Deputy Commissioner, Kullu to the state government,” the plea said.
On July 16, the green panel had asked the state to hold consultations with all stakeholders, whose livelihood would be affected by the ban on commercial activities and frame a rehabilitation plan to re-engage them in alternative employments and sustainable tourism.
The green court had earlier extended the stay on its
order banning entry of all diesel and petrol tourist vehicles while limiting the number of vehicles entering the popular area to 1,000 per day.
It had directed each vehicle, permitted to Rohtang Pass, to pay environmental compensation at the rate of Rs 1000 for petrol vehicle and Rs 2500 for diesel vehicle.
The Tribunal had also said that each vehicle which carries more than six passengers would be liable to pay compensation of Rs 5,000 as environmental compensation and these charges are payable for single entry.
Rohtang Pass is a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas around 51 km from Manali and connects Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
( Source – PTI )