HC warns secretary SPCB against ‘misleading’ it

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has warned Secretary of the State Pollution Control Board, Arun Kumar Tiku, against misleading it about Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) in the hotels of Gulmarg.
“We are amazed as to how the Secretary (SPCB), has presented a misleading picture of STPs in Gulmarg and how the hotels without making STPs functional have been permitted to operate. This is a clear and brazen violation of the orders passed by this court from time to time,” a division bench of Chief Justice M M and Justice Hasnain Massodi said.
“We were inclined to issue contempt notice to Arun Kumar Tiku, Member Secretary, SPCB; however, Advocate General assured that action in accordance with law would be initiated against all the defaulters, and the STPs of those hotels which are found non-functional will be sealed within one week from today,” the court said.
“Accordingly, we stay our hands from issuing notice to show cause for initiation of contempt proceedings and expect the Secretary of the Board to swing in action by visiting each and every hotel.”
The bench also made it clear that if any hotel was found without STP or it has non-functional STPs, then sealing must come back.
“Likewise, it should be ensured by the Secretary of the Board that wherever STPs are functional, their performance level should be assessed by testing the treated and untreated effluent,” the court said.
It also directed that capacity of STP to cater the solid waste and runoff from the hotels should also be assessed.
“A report in that regard shall be filed by or before the court. The needful as directed shall be done within one week and a detailed report in that aspect shall be filed before the Registrar Judicial on or before March 28,” the court said.
“If the needful is not done, the Secretary (SPCB) shall remain present in person in the court on the next date of hearing. In that case he has to answer as to why false affidavit has been filed and why contempt proceedings be not initiated against him.”
The directions by the bench followed its perusal of the status report submitted by the SPCB regarding the hotels.
“A casual look on the detailed report would show that in the list of 14 hotels, (nine) hotels do not have STPs functioning on the spot.”
Among the hotels include Hotel Hilltop, where STP has been installed but as per SPCB, on account of heavy snowfall and frozen conditions, it was found not operational.
Similar remarks were made with regard to Hotel Alpine Ridge, Hotel Gulmarg Resort, Hotel Pine Spring and others.