Planning to go to the Himalayas in a hired cab this summer? Rohtang Pass must be on the top of your list. Well, you better cross that off. National Green Tribunal has recently decided to lay a blanket ban on all diesel commercial vehicles from plying in the region.
While initially this ban was to be effective from May 1, however, as a small relief NGT, as per The Indian Express, has extended the last date to May 5, 2015 so that the state government of Himachal Pradesh has more time to find viable alternatives. This ban was put into force after a study found that several areas of snow-capped peaks in the region have blacked due to soot deposition from pollution.
Interestingly HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) vehicles, vehicles owned by residents of Lahaul region, and decades old (and highly polluting) army vehicles are exempted from the ban.
While such a ban is a good move from an environmentalist’s perspective but this is a big blow to people who earn their livelihood by ferrying tourists in their taxis. It would be beneficial if the government provides them some subsidies to buy alternative vehicles.
Our sources also confirm that the Himachal Pradesh government is also planning to appeal against this ban by NGT as they find it impractical.