In yet another effort to control the increasing pollution levels at Rohtang, NGT (National Green Tribunal) has decided to limit the number of vehicles travelling to Rohtang to 1,000 per day.
Earlier this month, a ban was commenced restricting all Diesel vehicles from plying on the Manali Rohtang route which was heavily opposed by the local tourism community and the taxi operators. Considering the unrest because of the ban, NGT extended the stay on its order until August 14th this year, but at the same time restricted the number of vehicles to 1000 per day. This number is broken into 600 petrol and 400 Diesel vehicles per day on first come first serve basis. All vehicles are also subjected to pay an environmental cess of Rs. 1000 for petrol vehicles and Rs. 2,500 for Diesel vehicles. As per the authorities, the amount collected is to be utilized only for the purpose of restoration of ecology and environment in the said eco-sensitive area. Vehicles carrying more than 6 passengers would be required to pay Rs. 5000 as environmental compensation and these charges are payable for single entry. Apart from paying the hefty fee, all vehicles must also the online pollution check at Vashishth in order to continue towards Rohtang. Vehicles found violating this notification would be slapped four times congestion charges. These charges however are to be collected from all commercial vehicles only.
Enforcing the new law strictly, NGT has confirmed that not a single vehicle would be allowed from stipulated 1000 on the snow pass every day. This quota is fixed as 60% for commercial vehicles and 40% for tourist vehicles. Out of the 60% commercial vehicles, 10% is reserved for vehicles from Himachal Pradesh only. For tourist vehicles, administration has decided to allow 50% vehicles from Kullu district, 10% from other Himachal districts and 40% from other states. Tourist vehicles could ply from 0600 hrs to 1200 hrs from Gulaba check-post toward Rohtang Pass however no tourist vehicle could stay after 1600 hrs on the pass.
What however is still not confirmed is how the private vehicles travelling to beyond Rohtang would be treated. For now, controlling all the fuss related to travelling to Rohtang, my advice for anyone planning to travel to Leh Ladakh is to take the Srinagar Leh highway to reach there and return via Manali Leh road.