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Green bench comes down heavily on tourism and local pollution control boards; all summoned

The National Green Tribunal has come down heavily on the destruction of ecology in the hill town of Kasauli, in the Solan District of Himachal Pradesh.

The area is being destroyed at a fast pace with no concern for the environment or the delicate eco system of the region, and in some cases the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Ltd was also at fault.

India Legal has published reports citing this mass scale destruction, the last of them being on February 23, 2017 (link: http://www.indialegallive.com/news-of-the-day/legal/kasauli-fights-back-20466 ).

This case has been brought to the NGT by the Society for Preservation of Kasauli and its Environs (SPOKE) against Hotel Pine View.

Hearing the case, the Green Bench, comprising Justices Swatanter Kumar and Raghuvendra S Rathore and Experts Bikram Singh Sajwan and Dr Ajay A Deshpande found that Hotel Pine view had constructed a seven-storey building on the top of a hill between Gaganpur and Kasauli.

The entire construction has been carried out without any specific consent from the authorities for such construction. The bench was told that in 1997 they (the hotel) got permission from the town and country planning department for a seven-room guest house. The defendants also said that they had taken consent from the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board on June 18, 2016.

However, the bench termed the whole consent as “arbitrary” and ruled that the hotel needs “to be shut and it is an inevitable fact that before granting such consent no inspection was done by them”.

On April 25, the bench ordered that the Chief Secretary Himachal Pradesh and Chairman Himachal Pradesh Pollution Board to be present before the tribunal on April 26.

Though this was not the judgement, the bench made it clear that “within a month this builder and hotel owner will be out of the building and hotel and these officers will be out of jobs.”

Matter listed for April 26.

Background

Here is a section of India Legal’s look into the Kasauli situation (as per link above).

Kasauli has been under stress due to a boom in the number of hotels in this hill town over the last two decades. Many of these hotels have been operating illegally and flouting construction rules and green norms.

About 72 new hotels, mainly privately-owned, have come up outside the protected Cantonment area, and they are operating without requisite authorisation. They dig borewells illegally for groundwater, have no sewage treatment plants and some, with permits for only 13 rooms, run 50-room establishments. About 11 of these hotels had been asked to respond to an expert committee report.

In March, the NGT quashed the permission given to Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) for building a 42-room hotel-cum-museum in the tourist town as well as banned any further construction in the ecologically fragile town. The consent of the Himachal Pradesh State Pollution Control Board (HPPCB) was set aside.

—By India Legal Bureau

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