Illegal operation of hotels in Mussoorie: NGT imposes cost of Rs 25,000, seeks new report

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board (UKPCB) for not submitting the required information regarding the illegal operation of some hotels in Mussoorie.

The NGT, which has also sought a fresh report from the board, was hearing a matter regarding some hotels in the Uttarakhand hill station flouting environmental norms and their unregulated withdrawal of water from the Mussoorie lake.

In November last year, the tribunal took note of a report of the UKPCB that said 106 hotels in Mussoorie were operating without the Consent to Operate (CTO).

Noting some deficiencies in the report, the NGT had directed the board to file a fresh document and imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on it.

“Now, the fresh action-taken report has been filed by the UKPCB, but there is no response in pursuance of the direction in respect of the management of sewage, water balance and dual-piping system. The direction has remained uncomplied even after the imposition of cost,” a bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava said.

Also, uniform action was not taken against the hotels and the details regarding the environmental compensation imposed on some of those were not mentioned, the bench, also comprising judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert members A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad, said.

In a recent order, the green panel said, “We are surprised that in spite of imposition of cost and deposit of the same, the direction of the tribunal remains uncomplied till now and the requisite information has not been furnished.”

The tribunal granted a further four weeks to the UKPCB to submit a new report, subject to a cost of Rs 25,000 that has to be kept in a ring-fenced account.

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“The above cost at the first instance will be deposited by the UKPCB, but the member secretary, UKPCB will ensure that this cost is recovered from the erring officer who was responsible for not disclosing the requisite information to the tribunal in spite of repeated opportunities,” it said.

The tribunal also directed the principal secretary of the state’s environment and forest department to be present on the next date of hearing on April 19 and apprise it of the action taken.

During the proceedings, it also took note of an affidavit filed by the Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan about the supply of additional water to Mussoorie.

Underlining that the affidavit disclosed a different position as compared to the statement earlier made by the state’s counsel, the NGT cautioned the authorities concerned and directed them to ensure that correct factual information is provided.

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