Apex court seeks HP's response on NGT's order

Apex court seeks HP's response on NGT's order

The Supreme Court Court on Friday asked the Himachal Pradesh government to reply to a plea challenging an order of the National Green Tribunal, restricting entry of private taxis to 1,000 per day to Rohtang.

A vacation bench of Justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit put the matter for further hearing on May 26 after taxi operators union contended that environmental cess of Rs 2,500 on diesel and Rs 1,000 on patrol vehicles would dissuade middle class to visit the tourist spot.

PollutionSenior advocate Vibha Dutt Makhija, representing the taxi operators union, contended that all the vehciles going from Manali to Rohtang pass was polluting the environment but only the taxis were saddled with the cost.

She further submitted that the NGT order to comply with BS-IV standards could not be obeyed as such fuel was not available in any petrol pump in the state.

The bench said, “If it is tourist vehicles which are creating environmental degradation, those have to pay.” However, the court decided to take response of the state government on the issue.

In its order, the NGT had restricted the number of vehicles passing through Rohtang Pass for tourism purposes to 600 petrol and 400 diesel per day on first-come, first-serve basis and directed for imposing of environmental cess on each taxis.

The NGT has said the amount thus collected would be kept in the account under a separate head by the state government and utilised only for the purpose of restoring ecology and environment.

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