ROURKELA: In a major relief to hotels and restaurants in Rourkela, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has reduced pollution compensation penalty, but directed the hotels to strictly adhere to air and water pollution norms.
As many as 17 hotels in the city, along with others in rest of Odisha, had filed review petitions at the Eastern Zone Bench of NGT, Kolkata for lowering fine.
The NGT bench, comprising Judicial Member Justice SP Wangdi and Expert Member Prof PC Mishra on Friday ruled that hotels and restaurants that have never taken the mandatory ‘Consent to Establishment’ (CE) and ‘Consent to Operate’ (CO) certificates and are running illegally should be categorised as ‘A’ and they would be liable for fine to the tune of ` one lakh. Similarly, hotels and restaurants failing to renew CE and CO certificates after expiry should be treated as ‘B’ category and would be liable for fine of `50,000.
Sources at Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) said last year notices were served on 21 big hotels of Rourkela and one in Sundargarh district headquarters town for not having Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) and discharging untreated sewerage water into rivers Brahmani at Rourkela and Ib at Sundargarh. A hotel at Rourkela was closed for months over the same reason. After the OSPCB notices, four of the 21 hotels at Rourkela had paid environmental compensation between ` three lakh and ` six lakh while one gave bank guarantee of ` five lakh and three others paid 30 per cent of total fine. Subsequently, 17 of them had moved the NGT for relief.
Incidentally, in the first week of September 30, fresh hotel units of medium and small sizes at Rourkela were served notices under the provisions of Sections 25/26 of Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Section 21 of Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
Rourkela-based OSPCB Regional Officer (RO) Mukesh Mahaling informed that as per NGT order, excess fine money would be returned. The OSPCB is focused on controlling untreated discharge of sewerage water, unscientific garbage disposal and noise pollution generated by diesel generators at hotels and restaurants. He claimed six big hotels have set up own STPs and a few others are in the process while 37 have applied for CO and CE certificates. The leftover hotels would also be asked to comply with norms.