Madras HC extends e-pass system for tourists in Kodaikanal, Nilgiris till September 30

The e-pass system was introduced on May 7 to allow tourist vehicles into the two hill stations as part of comprehensive measures for preserving the environment and ecology.
Advocate General P S Raman submitted that the study is still ongoing and the e-pass system can be extended further to enable the exercise
Advocate General P S Raman submitted that the study is still ongoing and the e-pass system can be extended further to enable the exercise Photo | Express

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has ordered the extension of the e-pass system — for visitors to gain entry into Nilgiris and Kodaikanal — till September 30 as part of the data collection process to assess carrying capacity.

A special division bench of Justices N Sathish Kumar and D Bharatha Chakravarthy passed the orders on Friday when a batch of petitions regarding forest issues came up for hearing.

The e-pass system was introduced on May 7 to allow tourist vehicles into the two hill stations and assess the carrying capacity as part of comprehensive measures for preserving the environment and ecology. While stating that an e-pass is mandatory for all vehicles to gain entry, the bench exempted local residents and vehicles transporting essential goods.

Experts from IIT-Madras and IIM-Bengaluru have been roped in for conducting the study on carrying capacity as per the bench’s earlier orders. Advocate General P S Raman submitted that the study is still ongoing and the e-pass system can be extended further to enable the exercise. Subsequently, the bench extended the pass system.

According to a status report filed by the Nilgiris district collector, as many as 1,90,968 tourist vehicles, including 1,323 buses and 1,47,741 cars have entered the hill station from May 7 to June 26. “After the implementation of the e-pass system, an average of 4,749 vehicles per day during season (May) and 2,778 vehicles per day during non-season (June) have entered,” the report stated. Referring to the anti-plastic vigil, the district collector further informed that `20 is being fixed as fine per pet bottle.

The report filed by the Dindigul district collector stated that a total of 82,714 tourist vehicles, including 1,361 buses and 63,156 cars have entered Kodaikanal till June 26. When the counsel for a petitioner informed the court that no fine was slapped in Kodaikanal for bringing plastic bottles, the bench directed the collector to issue instructions to the authorities concerned to collect the fine amount.

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