A year after the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) issued notices to more than 200 upcoming unauthorised hotels in Galliara in the vicinity of the Golden Temple for not taking its consent under the Air and Water Pollution Act, it has failed to take serious action against these establishments.
Many voices are being raised against these hotels, which are perceived to pose a constant threat to the ambiance and beauty of the Golden Temple by leading to an increase in the levels of pollution.
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in 2010 in this regard.
PHRO principal investigator Sarabjit Singh alleged that these hotels were violating the norms by causing “immense air and sound pollution” in the area, besides causing inconvenience to pedestrians and commuters, as most of them lacked parking lots.
“Quite close to the Golden Temple is a lane which houses more than 40 hotels. The area is jam-packed, as a number of residences have been converted into hotels, while several new ones are coming up, in contravention of the directives of the Punjab and Haryana high court that no fresh building plan shall be sanctioned in and around the Galliara area till further orders,” he said.
He added that the hotels, which housed more than 1,000 lavatories, were using the domestic sewerage system, which was also being used by the houses in the area. “The sewerage system is quite old and has a limited capacity. It usually backfires during the monsoons, causing waterlogging on the roads,” he said, adding that almost all of these hotels had generator sets which contributed to sound and air pollution in the area.
He said that the adverse impact of the pollution caused by these hotels on the beauty of the Golden Temple could be judged from the fact that 'sewa' had to be performed very frequently to clean the greenish-blue deposits on the gold plating of the shrine.
“Earlier, this process was undertaken once every few years, but now it has to be done quite frequently,” he added.
PPCB executive engineer Jaswant Singh said that the board was seriously pursuing the matter.
“The violators who were issued notices are being called for a hearing. All possible measures are being taken to curb air and noise pollution,” he claimed.