Shimla, July 20
Expressing serious concern over littering near the Atal Tunnel, the HP High Court has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Tourism), Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul and Spiti, HP State Pollution Board and the Border Roads Organisation.
The court passed this order on a news report published in The Tribune on July 3 under the caption “Littering near the Atal Tunnel threat to ecology.” It was reported in the news that littering by tourists near the Atal Tunnel has gone unchecked. Heaps of garbage can be seen on the roadside of the tunnel’s south portal near Manali. Besides being an eyesore, the waste is polluting the eco-fragile region and will be a health hazard if this goes unabated.
Taking cognizance, the court treated this news item as Public Interest Litigation. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice AA Sayed and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua directed the state authorities to file their affidavits mentioning therein the plan of action, including special drives to be conducted along with dates to ensure that garbage is cleared and indicate the provision in law under which fines are imposed for littering and the amount of fines collected in the past one year.
While passing this order, the court directed the officials to file their affidavits before the next date of hearing and listed the matter for further hearing on August 17.
It was reported in the news item that the Atal Tunnel has emerged as a famous tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh. The opening of the tunnel has resulted in a huge influx of tourists with threat of environmental degradation looming large. Due to the lack of infrastructure to cope with the increasing number of visitors, environment of the region is being degraded.
Some panchayats in Lahaul have put up hoardings at several places to make tourists aware of the need to keep the area clean. Despite that, tourists do not refrain from littering. The news item further revealed that there is no adequate arrangement of dustbins near the tunnel and that there is a dire need for separate washrooms for men and women.
Waste polluting environment
- The court passed the order on a news report published in The Tribune on July 3 under the caption “Littering near the Atal Tunnel threat to ecology”
- Heaps of garbage can be seen on the roadside of the Atal Tunnel’s south portal near Manali
- Besides being an eyesore, waste is polluting the eco-fragile region and will become a health hazard
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