HC directs issuance of e-pass to vehicles entering Nilgiris and Kodaikanal

In a bid to regulate entry of vehicles in the Nilgiris and Kodaikanal, the Madras High Court has directed the respective district administrations to develop a system to provide e-passes to vehicles entering the sought after hill stations.
HC directs issuance of e-pass to vehicles entering Nilgiris and Kodaikanal
HC directs issuance of e-pass to vehicles entering Nilgiris and Kodaikanal

Chennai | In a bid to regulate entry of vehicles in the Nilgiris and Kodaikanal, the Madras High Court has directed the respective district administrations to develop a system to provide e-passes to vehicles entering the sought after hill stations.

The court asked the District Collectors of Nilgiris and Dindigul to develop a system/online form so as to enable all the vehicles visiting the Nilgiris and Kodaikanal to fill in particulars and generate an e-pass. Only such vehicles will be permitted entry.

A division bench comprising Justices N Sathish Kumar and D Bharatha Chakravarthy gave the directive on Monday while passing interim orders in a case relating to fixation of carrying capacity in respect of the Nilgiris and Dindigul districts. Kodaikanal is located in Dinidgul district.

The bench said the possession of such e-passes can be properly checked at the entry points without fail. Such a system can be developed and implemented with effect from May 7, 2024 and shall be in vogue on a pilot/test basis up to June 30, 2024, the bench added.

The bench said adequate publicity shall be made for the said system informing the general public on the website/mobile app which were going to be developed. Advertisements can be issued nation-wide and more specifically in the regional newspapers of the neighbouring states--- Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The bench said the authorities can exempt the vehicles of local residents, commercial vehicles regularly carrying agricultural products by issuing an appropriate notification.

The bench said it was needless to say that e-passes either have to be valid for one entry or if it was for multiple entries, there must be a related provision.

A "whopping" 20,011 vehicles enter the Nilgiris every day, which includes 11509 cars and 6524 two-wheelers on an average during the peak season, the court said, adding, "it can be seen that the situation is alarming." "There can be absolutely no place even for movement of traffic and it is affecting everyone, the residents, the tourists, the visitors etc., without exception. More specifically, the local residents can not move even for their regular livelihood including for medical emergency and their very right to life is affected; the tourists also cannot reach their destinations and it spoils their very experience... the environment is the worst affected," the court said.

The roads were carrying beyond their capacity. It can also be seen that all these routes were "meddling/interfering with the elephant corridors." And in view of traffic jams, vehicles are stranded in the roads cutting across forests and the animals are worst affected. It causes irreparable damage to the environment, the bench noted.

The bench said the Nilgiris District Collector shall also ensure the traffic management for the current season, particularly, consider stopping tourists vehicles entering via Kalhatti Ghat Road because it was stated to be one of the primary reasons for the traffic congestion as well as detrimental to the environment.

The Collector shall, however exempt the vehicles of the local residents, the bench added and posted to July 5, further hearing of the case.

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