HC allows hotels without STPs to operate 19 rooms

Srinagar: After Srinagar, category-A hotels without Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) would now be allowed restrict their operation to 19 rooms only in all cities of the state, the J&K High Court ordered Thursday.
“In pursuance to last (June 5) order, directions were issued that all necessary steps shall be taken to ensure that hotels in category-A have STP operational in the cities of Katra, Patnitop, Jammu and Srinagar,” the court said, while disposing of a review application by hoteliers of Kathua, seeking permission to operate their hotels in the extent of 19 rooms with the requirement of soakage pits and septic tanks.
The directions were necessitated, court observed, on account of an affidavit filed by Secretary SPCB suggesting operation of 96 hotels in Katra has been ordered to be suspended.
“The effect of suspending the commercial operation was kept secret and the impression gathered by the court was that an order on paper was passed but in reality all the 96 hotels were operating because no sealing process was underlain by the (SPCB) with the help of authorities as was done at Gulmarg and Pahalgam,” the court said.
“The impression has now been fortified by instant review petition and according the averment made in the application, the hotel can be permitted to operate in the extent of 19 rooms with the requirement of soakage pits and septic tanks after obtaining consent from PCB in accordance with law.”
As per norms, category-A hotel (having 20 more rooms) requires to have STP and those working without it were to be closed by the SPCB.
In fact, court said, such a situation had arose before it when couple of applications were disposed of allowing category-A hotels to operate by restricting operation to 19 hotels only with they fulfill number of conditions set by it.
“In view of (their), the directions issued in respect of the hotels at Srinagar would also apply to hotels elsewhere in the cities of Katra, Jammu and Patnitop and other cities,” the bench said, reiterating the conditions to be satisfied by the hotels in order to operate only 19 hotels.
“The competent authority/(SPCB) shall allow the applicants to make functional their hotels to the extent of 19 rooms only after the statutory requirements for this purpose are complied with by the hoteliers and consent, in accordance with law, is granted to them by the (SPCB). The rooms beyond 19 shall be sealed by the (SPCB),” the court said.
The hoteliers, the bench said, shall have to file an undertaking before the Registrar Judicial of High Court that they would utilize only 19 rooms and would not tamper with the seal of the other rooms after complying with the statutory requirements and consent granted by the SPCB.
“Any breach of undertaking by the hoteliers will warrant initiation of contempt proceedings against them.”