The National Green Tribunal today cracked the whip on seven hotels in the picturesque Kasauli town of Himachal Pradesh, directing the demolition of illegally constructed portions of their buildings and imposing fines ranging from Rs 5-10 lakh on each of them.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also imposed hefty environmental compensation on the hotels — Bird’s View Resort, Chelsea Resorts, Hotel Pine View, Narayani Guest House, Hotel Nilgiri, Hotel Divsikha and AAA Guest House for causing irretrievable damage to the ecology, polluting the environment and raising unauthorised constructions.
“We direct that the unauthorised and illegal construction raised in violation of the planning laws affecting environment, ecology and natural resources adversely, should be demolished in terms of the provisions of the NGT Act of 2010,” the bench, also comprising Expert Members Bikram Singh Sajwan and Ajay A Deshpande, said and sought compliance within two weeks.
The tribunal imposed an environmental compensation of Rs five lakh each on Bird’s View Hotel, Hotel Divsikha and AAA Guest House, Rs 7 lakh each on Chelsea Resorts, Hotel Pine View and Narayani Guest House and Rs 10 lakh on Nilgiri hotel.
“Each of these five noticees shall pay the environmental compensation within two weeks from the date of pronouncement of this order, failing which the same shall be recovered as arrears of land revenue and their premises shall be liable to be sealed and water and electricity supply shall also be disconnected,” the bench said.
The tribunal noted that Bird’s View Hotel, which had permission for five rooms and two cottages, has carried out excessive construction and built nine rooms, one cottage and a three-storey frame structure adjoining the existing building without obtaining prior approval from Town and Country Planner, Solan.
Similarly, Chelsea Resorts which had permission for two blocks with three-storeys each has illegally constructed four blocks besides a twin parking unit.
Hotel Pine View originally had permission for three storeys in one block with a total capacity of seven rooms but its owner has constructed a seven-storey structure in two inter-connected building blocks.
Narayani Guest House had consent for three storeys and one floor for parking. However, the owner has constructed a six-storey building.
Nilgiri Hotel had permission for three storeys but the bench noted that including basement, there were eight storeys of the building.
“With great sense of regret, we notice that the present cases are glaring examples of flagrant violation of the above canons of law, violations of statutory duties and more particularly environmental jurisprudence.
“The noticees in the present cases could not quench their thirst for indiscriminately and illegally constructing properties for earning money while destroying natural resources and destroying the environment. These cases are examples of cruel human and nature conflict, the conflict that is activated by greed for money,” the NGT said.
The tribunal directed the Forest Department of Himachal Pradesh to appoint a team for this purpose which will work in assistance with the state pollution control board to ensure compliance of this direction.
The NGT noted that there was shortage of staff and infrastructure with the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board and the Town and Country Planning department, which was an “impediment” in carrying out their duties and functions effectively.
It directed the Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh to consider the proposal of the respective departments for enhancement of staff and infrastructure to make functioning of the Board and the Department effective.
“Appropriate mechanism should be provided for collection, handling and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste from such hotels/guest houses, in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016,” it said.
The judgement came on the plea filed by Society for Preservation of Kasauli and its Environs (SPOKE) contending that such a huge commercial activity cannot be permitted due to the fragile ecology of Kasauli town.
( Source – PTI )