National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunal: In an application filed for modification of order passed by the National Green Tribunal (‘NGT’)/Tribunal on 09-05-2016 and 30-08-2017, wherein the number to vehicles allowed from Manali to Rohtang Pass was restricted to 1300, the three Member-Bench of Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member) and Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), dismissed the application seeking modification of the previous orders and said that the carrying capacity of the area did not permit relaxation.


A letter was addressed to then Chief Justice of High Court of Himachal Pradesh, stating that 4000-5000 vehicles were making round trips from Manali to Rohtang Pass daily, resulting in huge pollution and damage to the environment. The proceedings for the matter were transferred to the NGT. The Tribunal sought status reports from the State Authorities and expert opinion was sought from NEERI, Nagpur, about the carrying capacity of the area. The Tribunal noted that heavy unregulated tourism in the area was resulting in degradation of the environment. The Tribunal passed an order on 23-04-2015 and held that the number and nature of vehicles were required to be regulated in the area. The number of vehicles allowed to go to Rohtang Pass for tourism purposes was restricted to 1000 vehicles per day on a first come first serve basis. It was ordered that out of these 1000 vehicles allowed to pass, 600 would be Petrol while 400 would be Diesel vehicles.

Thereafter, the Taxi Operators Association sought modification of the order dated 23-04-2015, however the plea to modify the order was dismissed by the Tribunal on 29-05-2015. Further, the Tribunal issued directions for the compliance of the previous order. Subsequently, another order was passed on 09-05-2016, and it was permitted that 800 petrol vehicles shall go to Rohtang Pass instead of 600. The said order was modified on 19-06-2017 and 100 more cars were permitted to the area, making it a total of 1300 cars to be allowed daily from Manali to Rohtang Pass.

The applicants sought modification of these previous orders passed by the Tribunal and had prayed to increase the number of vehicles from 1300 to 5000.

Tribunal’s Decision

The Tribunal noted that the applicants sought the modification of the orders due to the completion of the Atal Tunnel on 03-10-2020, which increased the parking spaces at Gulaba, Marhi and Rohtang pass. The Tribunal said that due consideration had been given to the matter time and again and the restriction laid on the number of vehicles were reiterated by declining prayers, keeping in view the adverse impact on the glaciers, climate change and the environment. The Tribunal also said that the carrying capacity of the area did not permit relaxation.

The Tribunal stated that the data of air quality was better merely because of the restricted number of vehicles, and this cannot be presumed to be a ground to increase the number of vehicles in the area. The Tribunal further said that the opening of the Atal Tunnel or availability of parking space does not change the situation, which led to the passing of earlier orders by the Tribunal. Further, the Tribunal said that the opinion of some experts cannot be treated as conclusive to revisit the orders passed on consideration of entirety of material based on reports of experts.

Thus, the Tribunal dismissed the applicant’s prayer to increase the number of vehicles allowed to Rohtang Pass.

[Court on its own motion v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 2023 SCC OnLine NGT 146, Decided on 25-04-2023]


Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Justice Sudhir Agarwal (Judicial Member) and Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member)

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