BHUBANESWAR: In a major setback for Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC), the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) on Sunday slapped a closure notice on Bhubaneswar Panthanivas and snapped electricity and water supply to the tourist facility.
The OTDC unit in the Capital was running without a consent to operate certificate for which the SPCB had served showcause notices in June, 2015. The 52-room hotel, which was established in 1979, did not set up a sewerage treatment plant as has been mandated by National Green Tribunal (NBT). Even after a couple of reminders, there was no response from OTDC or Panthanivas to the showcause notice. An inspection by SPCB established that the unit was not keen on making the mandatory compliances for a hotel to operate.
Subsequently, the SPCB, with assistance of Khurda district administration and Commissionerate of Police, executed the closure notice. “The diesel generator sets and back up power supply have also been sealed by the officials until further orders,” SPCB Environmental Scientist Hadibandhu Panigrahi said.
The closure came as a nightmare for around 70 guests, including a woman tourist from France, who were staying at the hotel during the enforcement. There was no electricity for several hours until the hotel authorities made makeshift arrangement by hiring a generator.
While enough electricity could not be supplied for the air-conditioners and television sets to function, the guests had to manage with a ceiling fan and one tubelight for the entire day.
“We have requested all inmates to shift from Panthanivas to other hotels on Monday and cancelled all future bookings. Besides, the hotel staff have been asked not to make any bookings in advance for one month,” Panthanivas Manager Ananda Mohapatra said. Meanwhile, OTDC sources said the Corporation had sought one month time from SPCB to make the necessary compliances. On January 24, OTDC had registered for the consent to operate certificate and deposited Rs 10,000 with pollution board.
The Corporation has already initiated opening tenders for the proposed sewerage treatment plant at Panthanivas which will be functional by July. “The Pollution Control Board’s action came as a rude surprise. It would cast a bad impression on tourism in the State,” a senior OTDC official said.