The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Himachal Pradesh government to take a slew of steps aimed at reducing air and noise pollution in the state capital Shimla.
The state has been ordered to impose Rs. 500 as 'green tax' on each vehicle emitting pollution on Shimla's restricted roads, including the Mall Road. The tribunal asked the government to consider implementing one-way traffic on the Cart Road, the circular road in the state capital.
The NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar said, "Definite steps are required to be taken at the earliest. If not taken now, the day is not far when ambient air quality of Shimla would deteriorate to an undesirable level, causing health hazards. It's a matter of common knowledge that air and noise pollution, particularly in Shimla, is increasing by the day. Traffic congestion is one of the major contributors to such excessive pollution."
The tribunal also directed to ensure no parking was allowed on the sealed roads, besides smooth traffic movement on the Cart Road.
The NGT asked the Himachal government to revisit all vehicle permits for sealed and restricted roads within three months, completely prohibiting or restricting vehicular traffic on such roads.
The 13-page order asked that the state government to take immediate steps to strictly comply with the directions. It said authorities had not complied with its earlier orders.
Favoring the practice of automobile-free zones, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had also sought status reports from the state as to how many vehicles were allowed to ply on the sealed roads of Shimla. It also sought replies on the steps taken to implement the Shimla Road Users and Pedestrians (Public Safety and Convenience) Act of 2007.
Shimla has several automobile-free zones to facilitate unrestricted movement of pedestrians.