The National Green Tribunal has issued notices to the environment ministry and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee for allowing restaurants in Hauz Khas Village in south Delhi without environmental clearance.
Most of the restaurants in the area have come up in recent years just like in many other urbanised villages in Delhi. These villages had in the past been exempted from municipal bylaws. But the Master Plan 2021 brought them under the ambit of municipal rules from 2011.
Pankaj Sharma, an international visitor with the American Department of State, filed a petition with the green tribunal after he found that these restaurants were operating without any of the 14 mandatory permissions and had caused environmental degradation of the historic village.
A big reservoir, Hauz-i-Alai, was built in the area by Alauddin Khilji in 1295, which acted as water catchment for southern part of the city. Various historic buildings can be seen around it. These include the tomb of Firoz Shah Tughlaq and a college constructed by him in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture.
Sharma alleged that most restaurants are less than 100 meters from the monuments and so are under archaeological laws. He said as the area has no municipal water supply, the restaurants, bars and pubs were using ground water, thereby depleting the resources.
He said the restaurants did not have any safe waste disposal system and were dumping waste nearby, thereby contaminating it.
Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) rules mandate its consent for any hotel and restaurant with a seating capacity of more than 36 people. The rules also say these eateries should have effluent or sewage treatment plants to manage kitchen waste.
The DPCC, however, told Sharma in a RTI reply that none of the restaurants running in the narrow by-lanes in the area had taken requisite permission under environment, water and air acts.
Hauz Khas Village may not be an exception as restaurants in many other places run without treatment plants for waste water, a sewage system and environmental approval.
Taking cognisance of the petition, the tribunal asked the environment ministry and the DPCC to reply to the claims in the petition by August 23.