Study of Rotang Pass

With an increasing traffic at Rohtang Valley, environmentalists fear an adverse impact on the fragile mountain ecology. To evaluate change in environmental quality at the Rohtang Pass, the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) conducted a detailed study and prepared a report on the collected data in October 2012. The researchers warned that the ever-increasing flux of vehicles is posing a serious environmental threat to the region.

In the study, which was tabled in the HP Vidhan Sabha on 12th March, NEERI pointed out that growing number of vehicles were taking a toll at the region’s environment, and if necessary step were not taken in time, air pollution would increase significantly by 2022 and adversely impact the fragile mountain ecology.

The survey revealed that the number of vehicles counted on the Manali-Palchen road in end-May in 2012 was 6,359 and expected to increase to 15,000 by 2022 that would adversely affect the fragile environment of the region.

The National Environment Engineering Research Institute has suggested various recommendations including Restriction of Traffic, proper Vehicle Fitness Test, Low Cost Buses, Ropeways, Introduction of air routes like helicopters, Battery Operated Snow Scooters, Early completion of Rohtang Tunnel, Solid Waste Collection System etc. to enforce the timely measures to curb the man-made disaster in the fragile mountain ecology of the region.

Adulterated fuel is another reason of air pollution and to curb it, NIERS has suggested Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to press oil companies to ensure better movement of their produce to avoid adulteration and suggested to start awareness campaign for the petrol pumps’ operators.

NIERS also recommended Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to develop better specification for the lubricants (fuel) for vehicles and further advised HP State Pollution Control Board and Petroleum Ministry to press oil companies to actively undertake programmes such as BPCL’s Pure for Sure; HPCL’s Club HP and IOC’s Q & Q etc. to provide better fuel quality.

NIERS also suggested Petroleum Ministry to strengthen anti adulteration cell and establish it in Himachal Pradesh.

To evaluate the change in environmental quality in terms of air, water, soil, ecology/ biodiversity, due to the activities carried out in the vicinity of Rohtang Pass, the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board had sponsored Environment Engineering Research Institute to identify adverse effects on environmental status and provide remedial measures on resultant impacts to prevent expected environmental degradation.