Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court Thursday once again came down heavily on State Pollution Control Board(SPCB) for ‘misleading’ it over sealing of hotels not conforming to pollution control norms in Jammu and Kashmir.
“We explained to you that meaning of suspend commercial operation can only be one that it has to be effectively done and sealing is the one method to do it effectively. We have explained it; we have spoken about it in our last order…We will ensure that court orders are carried into effect,” a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said after perusal of a status report filed by Secretary SPCB in compliance to court directions.
“In the status report filed in respect of hotels operating in various cities of the state, again vague expression has been used that commercial operation has been suspended. In the June 5 order, we have clarified that such an order is only on paper and in reality, such hotels keep operating. Therefore in order to effectively implement the suspension of commercial operation, the sealing process was ordered to be undertaken,” the bench said, terming the status report “far from satisfactory.”
“We direct Secretary SPCB to file the fresh status report, reflecting that the hotels violating the norms laid down in pollution laws of having STP, soakage pit/ septic tanks have been sealed. The affidavit shall be filed by tomorrow (Friday),” the court said.
The court also turned down a request by Regional Director of SPCB, urging the bench to grant three days time to do the needful.
“You (SPCB) tried to mislead the court by saying that hotels are sealed. Today again now you are changing the stance. You are hand in glove with those hotel people,” the bench responded in hard-hitting tone.
“File the status report tomorrow. We are going to be very, very hard, Mr Qadri (Advocate General) if anybody tries to be over smart. We will deal with him in his own language,” the court added.
As per pollution norms, Sewerage Treatment Plants are required for the hotels having 20 or more rooms.
Hotels having 19 or less rooms, as per the norms, need to at least have a soakage pit or septic tank.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation—Rafiq Ahmad Zargar Vs State—seeking directions for implementation of pollution control laws in the state in letter and spirit.
While Advocate General M I Qadri represented the state and SPCB, amicus advocate A Chesti assisted the court.