Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has clarified that its order allowing hotels without Sewerage Treatment Plants to operate 19 rooms would not last forever even as it sought fresh status report within two weeks about the sealing of hotels violating pollution control and other laws in the state.
“There are hotels which are multi-storeyed and have been permitted to operate only in respect of 19 rooms in pursuance of concession given by this Court vide order (on December 24 last year”. The order apparently was passed to surmount the situation of tourist rush and heavy booking of hotels,” a Division Bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi said while hearing Public Interest Litigation—Rafiq Zargar and others Vs state.
“It did not, however, mean that these hotels are not required to install STPs. We wish to clarify that the order was passed to give respite to such hotels and it may not last for all times to come. In other words, such an order may have to be withdrawn.”
The direction followed perusal of a status report filed by Secretary State Pollution Control Board, giving details STP in various hotels and consent accorded by it at Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Srinagar, Sonamarg, Patnitop, Jammu, Katra, Rajouri, Poonch, Doda and Kishtwar.
The details were read out by Advocate General M I Qadri who also assured the Court that action would be taken against the hoteliers who have not obtained the consent from SPCB and also against those who have not installed STP or are violating other pollution control laws.
He said that the hotel violating the provisions of law and the orders of the Court would be suitably dealt with by sealing the same so that their commercial operation is effectively suspended.
The court also directed advocate Mohsin Qadri, counsel for Gulmarg Development Authority to furnish the information regarding the eviction notices and action taken against encroachers in tabulated form by preparing the list separately for each category.
“That should provide bird’s eye view to the Court with regard to violators and violations,” the bench said.
The direction followed the perusal of a status report from GDA about issuance of eviction notices and orders to (six) encroachers who have no allotment in their favour and 31 persons who were allotted a small portion of land but they have encroached upon hundreds of kanals of land including Hotel Nedus which has occupied more than 98 kanals in excess to land (2 kanals) allotted to it.
“Few examples from the status report would be sufficient to disclose the blatant disregard for the law of the land,” the bench said.
Observing that the grabbers must also be elsewhere in the State and that information has been provided only in respect of Gulmarg, the bench directed Advocate General to collect the information with regard to these categories from other parts of the State.
However, the advocate General stated that a Public Interest Litigation (S. K. Bala v. State of J&K) on similar lines has been filed before the Jammu Wing of the Court.
Subsequently, the bench directed The Registrar Judicial (Jammu) to photocopy the whole paper book and the orders passed in that PIL and send the same to this wing of the Court so that “we are able to appreciate the order passed and action taken with regard to these type of cases as well.”
“The status report in respect of all the (directions) shall be filed by all concerned within two weeks,” the court added and posted the case for further consideration on August 13.
Earlier, the court was informed that a team under the supervision of Chief Executive Officer GDA sealed six structures which were being raised illegally at Tangmarg. They include Hotel Greenz,; Hotel Bakshi (Mukhtar); M/s Javaid Matta; Cooperative Society Complex; Hotel Down Hill, and DFO’s Office building at Tangmarg.
Advocate Aijaz Chesti, assisted the court in his capacity as amicus curie in the case.