It seems taking the Manali-Leh highway to Ladakh is becoming troublesome by each passing year. First in 2012, a new law was passed where everyone heading towards Rohtang was required to obtain a permit from Manali’s DM office. This was a huge problem because then you were bound to either spend a day in Manali even if you didn’t want to or start late towards Rohtang and get stuck in traffic. Then in 2013, NGT (National Green Tribunal) came up with another regulation barring vehicles older than 10 years from plying on Manali to Rohtang route. As if this wasn’t enough to trouble the travelers, another law has been introduced in 2014. This time, in the name of environment, authorities have set up a pollution check center on Manali-Leh highway, near Vashisht (Manali). Purpose of this center is to stop every vehicle heading towards Rohtang and get their emission levels checked.
As reported by TOI,
“All vehicles moving towards Rohtang will now have to undergo emission test at the pollution checking centre that has been built near Vashisht on the Manali-Rohtang highway. The pollution check centre has been built by Himachal government under the guidelines of National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Concerned about the increasing effect of pollution on the ecologically fragile Rohtang area, NGT had ordered the state government to establish a pollution check centre near Vashisht so that only “fit and low emission vehicles” could ply on the route. Now, the vehicles with high emission will not be allowed to run beyond Vashisht. Also, vehicles older than 10 years are strictly banned on the Manali-Rohtang highway.
“A permanent pollution check centre has been established near Vashisht,” Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said, adding that vehicles emanating harmful gases beyond permissible limit will not be allowed to move on the highway. “We are strictly following the orders of NGT to conserve greenery, cleanliness, fauna and flora of Rohtang area,” he said.”
While I may agree a little with barring old vehicles from plying on the route, setting up an emission check center is completely beyond me. Anyone who has been to Rohtang would know that traffic is already a problem on this route. People are forced to leave as early as they could despite the cold weather just so they could beat the traffic. On such a route, setting up a pollution check center, and stopping hundreds of vehicles which will of course result in an overwhelming traffic jam is completely ridiculous. How will this ever help control the pollution, all those lined up vehicles standing for hours will rather increase the pollution. Another point is that if you are stopping every vehicle, irrespective of the fact whether they already have a PUC certificate or not, then you are straight away saying that every other pollution check center in the country is useless.
Rising levels of pollution is an issue that concerns all of us and we all must play our role in controlling it but I do wish that the government will come up with more sensible ideas. A senseless idea like this will only result in un-necessary traffic jam, increased pollution and of course, more money in the pockets of corrupt cops. For now, my suggestion would be to take the Srinagar-Leh highway to reach Leh and return via Manali. At least that road is still hassle free so far and is equally beautiful.