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HC allows hotels with STPs to operate in Gulmarg, Pahalgam
10/23/2013 11:12:56 PM
Srinagar, Oct23; The J&K High Court today gave some relief to the hoteliers in Gulmarg and Pahalgam asking them to operate for a period of one month in case they have installed Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) in their hotels.
Pertinently the High Court had earlier directed Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) to facilitate installation of Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs), soakage pits and septic tanks for the sealed hotels at Gulmarg.
However, the court today said that the hotels that have installed STPs in compliance to its directions shall operate from October 28.
Earlier the Pollution Control Board (PCB) in its report submitted before the Court said that five hotels in category A at Gulmarg which were sealed under High Court directions, have sought permission to set up STPs, out of which two hotels have already set up the STPs. The Court has however, allowed these hotels to operate for a period of one month during which the PCB will ascertain efficiency of such STPs.
On October 3, a division bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar that heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking intervention of the court to preserve fragile ecology at tourist destinations, kept an application filed by the sealed hotel owners of Gulmarg pending.
According to Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri, the Court said that it will decide the application seeking de-sealing of the hotels in Gulmarg only after their owners install STPs, soakage pits and septic tanks.
Meanwhile, Qadri told Kashmir Times that the government has been asked to furnish a status report on proposed action to be taken against hotels that have violated pollutions laws in Pahalgam by or before October 23. Pertinently, the Pollution Control Board has already issued show cause notices to the hotels violating pollutions laws in Pahalgam.
Similarly, the Court has asked a report from the government on its proposed action against hotels violating pollution laws in Srinagar. The government has been asked to file this report by or before October 19.
On October 8, the same bench had taken a strong exception to the fact that most of the hotels in Pahalgam operate without STPs, soakage pits and septic tanks. The Court had reprimanded Pollution Control Board for its lax attitude towards fulfilling its duties in Pahalgam. The Court had also asked for list of hotels that exist in Srinagar and Pahalgam after the PCB sealed 12 hotels on Gulmarg on High Court directions.
On September 26, the High Court had ordered sealing of hotels at Gulmaarg which were found violating pollution norms. And a day after that direction, the PCB in presence of an executive magistrate sealed 15 hotels at the world famous tourist resort Gulmarg.
The same division bench had on September 26 directed PCB to seal the operation of all these hotels not adhering to Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, Rules framed under the Acts as well as policy of the state.
The orders were issued after the Court perused a supplementary compliance report filed by Member Secretary PCB Arun Kumar Tickoo. "The report is again far from satisfactory," the bench said, calling PCB a "blunder". The court observed that the board is not doing enough. "They are hand in glove with the hoteliers. We are not mincing any words," the bench observed, adding, "We want simple compliance of the provisions of the law and PCB's own policy but the affidavit filed by board is a mockery of law."
As per the PCB policy, hotels having more than twenty rooms are required to have STP in operation but as none of the hotels has a functional treatment place. Those having 19 or less number of rooms are required to septic tanks to manage toilet and other waste.
On August 23, the Court had said there are gross irregularities with regard to 84 cases of lease in world famous tourist resort-Gulmarg. In this regard the division commissioner Kashmir was asked to ensure implementation of various provisions of law, failing which suitable action shall be taken.
On July 2, the Court had asked Chief Secretary Jammu and Kashmir to decide all matters pertaining to lease of land in Gulmarg within two weeks. The Court had also directed the Pollution Control Board authorities to inspect all hotels in the world famous tourist destination to check violation of pollution norms.
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