Re-seal hotels with non-functional STPs: HC

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday ordered re-sealing of hotels with non-functional Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs).
“There are some adamant people who don’t understand any other language. This is the only language befitting to them. Kindly ensure that either the STPs are functional or hotels are not functioning. Otherwise we will take it that our orders are not complied with,” a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi said while hearing a Public Interest Litigation.
The bench also asked State Pollution Control Board to file a status report regarding functioning of STPs in hotels at Jammu, Katra and Panitop in addition to the hotels in the Valley.
“They (hoteliers in Jammu, Katra and Patnitop) must comply with all these directions,” the bench said, making it clear to SPCB that it will not accept slackness in compliance of its orders.
“Court passes orders not for fun and not for somebody to circumvent it,” the bench added.
It also questioned two separate modes of action for hotels at Srinagar and Gulmarg that were without STPs. “How it can be justified that you suspend commercial operation of hotels at Srinagar and seal those in Gulmarg?”
In another direction, the court directed the Gulmarg Development Authority to evict those persons who have encroached upon state land in Gulmarg immediately.
“There are two types of illegal occupiers. One who have encroached the land and second who have land in excess of what was allotted to them on lease. In first category there is no need for demarcation while in second, demarcation is required (it will begin from April),” the court said, underling that action has to be taken against the trespassers.
“Slackness on part of the authorities encourages (encroachers) to lawlessness. Either they are hand-in-glove or they are slack. For courtesy sake we use word slackness,” the court said.
“You must ensure that those using land in excess to the allotted area, they must pay penal rent in respect of the land occupied in excess by them,” the court said, adding, “You must take an undertaking from them that they will not indulge in such practice in future. There are provisions for prosecution against these people.”
The bench asked the authorities that they should not show “slackness” against those who are trespassers on state land.
“It is not acceptable. Don’t spare them,” the court added.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation, seeking directions to protect Gulmarg ski-resort from pollution and illegal constructions.
While advocate general M I Qadri represented the state and the SPCB, advocate Aijaz Chesti assisted the court as Amicus Curie.