By LE Desk

New Delhi, June 10, 2021: The National Green Tribunal Thursday directed the Himachal Pradesh government to expedite process for the ropeway from Palchan to Rohtang and asked the chief secretary to monitor compliance.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel noted there was also a delay in grant of electric connection to the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Marhi and status of upgradation of STP at Manali is not known, news agency PTI reported.

“It is seen that the ropeway project has not been completed for want of requisite Environmental Clearance. Steps are in progress for setting up of STP at Marhi and upgradation of STP at Manali, for parking facilities, Solid Waste Management facility, Nature Park, Electric Buses. The said steps need to be expedited.

“Steps for Solid Waste Management facility at Manali and other pending jobs need to be expedited. Let all the same be monitored at the level of chief secretary, HP and compliance ensured in a time-bound manner. Final compliance report may be filed before the next date by e-mail,” the bench said.

The matter is listed for next hearing on October 26.

The direction came after the Deputy Commissioner Kullu told the tribunal that the project head of Manali Ropeway Pvt Ltd has informed that the Stage-II / Final Approval has been given by the Environment Ministry and final order of diversion of forest land shall be passed by the state government after obtaining permission of the Supreme Court.

The Himachal Pradesh government told the NGT that it has filed an application in the apex court seeking permission for this project as it had imposed interim stay/ban on the processing of forest land diversion cases.

“Further, for obtaining the principal approval of environment clearance, matter was already taken up with the MoEF but it was lying pending for want of finalisation of notification for declaring the Eco-sensitive Zone of Manali Wildlife Sanctuary.

“In this regard the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife has informed that the final notification of Eco-sensitive zone around Manali Wildlife Sanctuary has now been issued vide Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change,” the Deputy Commissioner Kullu said in his status report.

The NGT had earlier directed the Himachal Pradesh government to take steps to initiate the Stage-II forest and wildlife clearance for the Palchan-Rohtang Pass ropeway and submit fresh a proposal for an eco-zone draft notification.

The tribunal had passed the order after perusing a status report by the Additional Chief Secretary of the state government which stated that Stage – I Forest Clearance for diversion of forest land for the project has been granted but the Stage –II Forest clearance was held up as the area was within 10 Km area of the wildlife sanctuary.

The green panel had earlier asked the state government to make all possible efforts to take forest clearance from the competent authority.

The Himachal Pradesh government had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Malana Ropeway Pvt Ltd for execution of the 9-km long Palchan-Rohtang ropeway to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 390 crore

The NGT has directed the state government to explore the possibility of passenger ropeways to other places like Bhrigu Lake, Hamta Pass, Patalsu Peak, Kothi Peak, Shilla Thatch and Chanderkhani Pass, where tourists can see snow.

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