The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Himachal Pradesh government to explore the possibility of introducing CNG vehicles in the state capital Shimla, the erstwhile summer capital of the British Raj.
“The state government shall clearly put forward its stand as to why traffic is being permitted on every road in Shimla, resulting in air and noise pollution,” NGT bench comprising chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice U.D. Salvi observed in its order.
It asked: “Why all vehicles or even limited number of vehicles are being allowed to ply on each and every road right up to the telegraph office (located on the Ridge) on the one hand and the Regal building on the other?”
“If at all, traffic is to be permitted on other roads leading up to the restricted areas, introduction of CNG vehicles may be explored.”
A circuit bench of the NGT’s principal bench, which held hearing in the Himachal Pradesh High Court here for two days since Monday, said: “Why due notification, covering all the hospitals, schools, universities, dispensaries, institutional areas, etc. situated in the entire state as silent zones specifying that no noise or air pollution should be caused, particularly within 100 m of such institutional areas, is not being issued?”
Listing the matter for next hearing Sept 17, the NGT directed the State Pollution Control Board to take ambient air quality samples from several intersection points in Shimla and submit a report.
Shimla has several auto-free zones to facilitate unrestricted movement of pedestrians.
The Mall and the historic Ridge, an open space just above the Mall which were once ‘British only’ streets meant for strolling on, is among the auto-free zones.