The vacation bench of the Supreme Court today refused to put a stay on an order passed by the National Green Tribunal by which the Tribunal had limited the entry of petrol and diesel tourist vehicles in Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh to 1000 per day, till August 14.
The Apex Court however stayed an order of NGT by which the Tribunal had ordered that all vehicles must undergo pollution check and be compliant with BS IV standards.
The vacation bench consisting of Justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit told the taxi operators that they should submit their case before NGT. The taxi operators, reportedly had support from the state government, which is not happy with the order passed by NGT.
As the taxi operators admitted that there case was not properly heard by NGT as they had orally mentioned the matter, the Apex Court directed them to file an application and asked the Tribunal to consider it on the next date of hearing.
The Apex Court also observed that "when such steps are taken there will be a hue and cry" and cited the introduction of CNG in Delhi, which was done after the orders of the Supreme Court. The Court reportedly observed that the then Delhi Chief Minister had said that they will disobey the order.
Appearing for taxi operators union, Senior Advocate Vibha Dutt Makhija submitted to the Court that the order of the Tribunal was affecting the taxi operators and also middle class tourists. Regarding BS IV standards, she submitted that such fuel was not available anywhere in the State.
In addition, the issue of environmental cess of Rs 2,500 on diesel vehicles and Rs 1,000 on petrol vehicles for each trip between Manali and Rohtang Pass was also raised before the Apex Court.
Earlier, NGT had put a cap of 600 petrol and 400 vehicles to be allowed to cross the Rohtang Pass, on first come first served basis. It had also ordered collection of environmental cess, which was to be collected by State government and to be used only for restoring ecology and environment.
For vehicles having more than 5 persons, Rs 5,000 as environmental compensation for single entry was ordered by the NGT. The State was also directed to post a team of police, transport and other departments at Vashisht and Gulaba areas between Manali and Rohtang with complete infrastructure and machinery by the NGT.
It had also asked the State to call a meeting of CNG vehicles manufacturers to provide the same in the eco sensitive zone, i.e. Rohtang Pass.
You may read more of our coverage on NGT here.