It seems just when you think, it cannot get any worse for tourism in Ladakh, something new and disturbing comes up. From the late opening of the road to the reimposition of Inner Line Permit for Indian travelers.
This year has started on the wrong foot for Ladakh, and now, it has gotten worse!
District administration of Manali has now decided to restrict the number of vehicles, which will be allowed to cross Rohtang Pass daily. This has apparently been done to crack down on people, who say they are going to Ladakh, Spiti or Lahaul, and instead just go up to Rohtang Pass and come back down.
This is an issue for the administration because number of vehicles going up to Rohtang for tourism is restricted by the order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) to 1,200 vehicles per day.
So in order to crack down on these idiots, the administration has decided to punish travelers heading to Ladakh and other places beyond Rohtang.
Granted, they are saying, they will blacklist any vehicle which violates the permit norms. But for someone coming from another part of India, does it really matter?
A better step would have been immediate impounding of the vehicle or a fine of Rs. 25,000 to scare the living daylight out of people, hell bent on breaking rules and causing inconvenience to everyone.
Yet, it wasn’t done.
All that was done was genuine travelers were placed under another restriction.
Now if on any day, more than 800 vehicles need a permit to cross Rohtang, those who can’t get the permit first or don’t have contacts to bypass these rules (there are always jugads in India), will end up wasting their precious time in Manali! Causing pollution to the touristy town and consuming resources, while waiting to cross the Rohtang Pass and be on their way!
Considering last year, 694 vehicles were crossing Rohtang daily and there is a steady increase in tourism to not only Ladakh but also Lahaul, Spiti, and Pangi (something Himachal government has been pushing for lately) and the conditions in Kashmir are unstable at best, there is bound to be a major increase in number of tourists taking the Manali route.
Alas, in the end, the poor traveler will pay for this order, like the other ones, before this…