Hoteliers seek govt help as sewage deadline ends
Hoteliers sought relief from the state government over the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board’s directive to hotels to set up sewage treatment plants (STPs).
The board issued the directive in pursuance with a Supreme Court ruling on February 22 that asked industries, including hotels, to set up effluent-treatment plants.
The board asked more than 1000 hotels with more than 20 rooms to deposit fees from 2002 to get clearance on sewage treatment. The deadline for setting up STPs was May 21, and that of fee deposits is May 31.
Hoteliers met chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, state forest and environment minister Harak Singh Rawat and senior officials, arguing that sewage treatment was the responsibility of municipal bodies and the water works department. They said hotels connected with main municipal sewer lines should be exempted from the board’s order.
“We are paying all charges and municipal taxes for sewage disposal. Sewage treatment is the responsibility of Jal Sansthan as it is collecting taxes for this,” said RN Mathur, president of the Mussoorie Hotel Association.
“The pollution board is not ready to buy our arguments and hell bent on sealing the hotels after the deadline was over on May 21.”
Mathur said, “Fees from 2002 come to around ₹6-7 lakh for every hotelier; many hoteliers can’t pay it.” Hoteliers said the STP deadline would hit their business during the peak tourism season.
Mathur said STPs would degrade Mall hill stations, such as Mussoorie and Nainital. “Imagine a situation in which all hotels located along the Mall Road in Mussoorie set up STPs. Will tourists be able to walk on the road with stench coming from the plants?” asked Mathur.
Hoteliers demanded that the state government follow the Himachal pattern -- hotels connected with municipal sewer lines need not have STPs.
“That’s the reason why Himachal tourism industry is more successful than ours. The PCB order has created fear among hoteliers,” said Uttarkashi hotels’ association president Ajay Puri.
“How can hotels sustain business when the PCB threatens to seal them? Hotel industry provides maximum employment to locals and we hope that the government will do something on the PCB order.”
Uttarakhand Hotel Association president Sandeep Sahani said, “We have requested the chief minister and chief secretary to provide relief to hotel industry as the present situation may land many hoteliers in trouble. Himachal pattern will be the best option.”
The pollution board said it would proceed with legal action against hotels not abiding by the SC order to avoid contempt of court.
“Hoteliers are free to keep their arguments before the court. We have to take steps as per the SC order. It may not necessarily be sealing of hotels; there are other options,” said UPCB secretary Vinod Singhal.