BHUBANESWAR: The Puri beach is a major tourist attraction but pollution has always remained a matter of concern.
Flouting environment laws, drains carrying sewerage water of hotels and commercial establishments to the sea dot the beach.
Even as the State Government launched mechanised cleaning of the beach this year, it is yet to take a decision on preventing private hotels from discharging sewage into the sea though National Green Tribunal had issued an order in this regard last year.
While several hotels do not have sewerage treatment system, the waste water treatment plant at Banki Muhana near the beach has been lying defunct since 1999.
According to Regional Officer of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), Puri, Hadibandhu Panigrahy, there are 335 small and big hotels in three rows along the beach. Of these, three big hotels have solid waste treatment plants and 70 small hotels do not generate much waste water.
“Rest of the hotels release at least 10 million litres of untreated sewage per day into the sea. A considerable amount of it accumulates at Banki Muhana. Fortunately, we have not traced any instance of water table contamination due to this so far,” said Panigrahy.
Though 24 big hotels had agreed to set up treatment plants following an inspection by OSPCB in 2006, they are yet to implement it while the pollution control watchdog has not taken any follow-up action.
In May, the OSPCB regional office issued showcause notices under Section 33-A of the Water (Pollution Prevention and Control) Act to 260 hotels near the beach for releasing untreated waste water onto the sea. They were given a month’s time to reply.
Only a few hotels have responded to the show cause notice. On the basis of the reply, the OSPCB regional office served closure notice on one hotel on August 7 and notices will be issued to three other hotels in two days, said Panigrahy.
Hoteliers, on the other hand, blamed the civic authorities for the present situation. Puri Hotels Association president Ramakrushan Dasmohapatra said 60 per cent of the hotels near the beach do not have sewerage connections. “The association had sent a proposal to the civic body for improving the drainage system. Though the drainage work has been started, it is moving at a snail’s pace. Till the drains are constructed, we have no option but to release water into the sea,” he said. But he did not comment on why untreated water is being released by big hotels.