The next time you relax and smell the coffee or enjoy your favourite Chinese cuisine at a plush restaurant, do remember that the services and ambience do not cost you money alone.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has found that the 2,000-odd top-of-the-line eateries with 80 to 90 seats each and banquet halls in the Capital are a huge source of pollution and water wastage.
As much as 95% of the 2,000 units, including 550 with bars, do not have the DPCC’s permission to operate; nor do they have waste water treatment plants.
These units consume 20 million litres of water every day.
Ten million litres that can otherwise be supplied to an area twice as big as Connaught Place is wasted every day.
They throw out 16 MLD of untreated sewage — something an area twice as big as Delhi Cantonment would.
The DPCC has issued more than 100 notices. Some have got closure notices.
DPCC chief Sandeep Mishra said, “They have to take permission to operate. They don’t have to put in place huge (treatment) plants. There are various improvised systems that can be placed on walls or on the roof.”
“Unlike hotels and clubs, these restaurants don’t have green areas, so water wastage and reuse of treated water are not as important issues as the extremely poor quality of discharge, including leftover food, in drains,” said Mishra.
Rough estimates say about 30 per cent of this sewage — 5 MLD — can be treated and used for cleaning floors and flushing toilets. Fresh groundwater is illegally sourced for this at night.
“So, in a way, the total water waste is 15 MLD. The 16 MLD of sewage can also be reduced to 3 MLD once water consumption is cut down by half and there is on-site reuse of treated water,” said a DPCC official, dealing with the issue.
In the third week of January, the DPCC had told these restaurants and banquet halls to set things right by March 31. The deadline was later extended to June 30.
When nothing much happened, closure notices were sent, asking New Delhi Municipal Corporation, subdivisional magistrates, Delhi Jal Board and power discoms for sealing and disconnection of power and water supplies.
“We are getting response when supplies were cut in some cases. We have set deadlines — ranging from three months or less — depending on cases for compliance,” said Mishra.