City hotels will now have to tow the green line drawn by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) if they want to hold on to their stars. The MPCB has issued orders making it mandatory for hotels in the city to install sewage treatment plants (STP). In fact, this has now become one of the mandatory parameters for hotels seeking grades from the tourism department. Hoteliers are now busy running from pillar to post seeking clarifications, and those who have no space in which to install these plants are begging for exemption.
Roma Singh, regional director for India tourism, said, “We have withheld the classification of a few hotels, as they are yet to get the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the state pollution board. An NOC is mandatory as per the classification/re-classification guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Tourism. We have decided to make a presentation to the board, over why these hotels cannot have sewage plants in their premises.” According to sources, the regional director has also written to the restaurant and hotel divisions of the Union tourism ministries seeking clarifications on the law.
“We have met the Union tourism minister, raising our concerns. Many hotels that are running in the city are more than 50 years old, and they do not have enough space to install the sewage plant. As per the new guidelines, the hotels are required to submit an NOC from the state pollution board for consent to operate. It is not possible for old hotels to comply with certain parameters, due to space constraints and other factors. We appeal to the government to apply this law only on relatively new hotels that were set up after 2010, and not for older properties,” said Bharat Malkani, managing director of Transit Hotel and secretary of the Hotel and Restaurant Association –Western India (HRA-WI).
A 3-star hotel owner said on the condition of anonymity, “With most of the cities falling under local governing bodies, the ministry of tourism should remove this as a classification requirement from the Hotel & Restaurant Approval & Classification Committee (HRACC) guidelines. Hotels already obtain NOCs from the environment section of the BMC — then why do we have to seek NOCs from the MPCB? The city’s leading hotel, which is almost 150 years old, is facing a similar problem. Apart from installing the plant, we need a proper garden where we can release the waste. But who has so much space in a city like Mumbai?”
If the figures are to be believed, around 82 per cent of industrial and domestic effluents in the state are contributed by the domestic sector and by industries. A survey report conducted by the MPCB in 2011 has revealed that the city’s water bodies are in a critical condition. Of the 248 locations monitored, samples have exceeded permissible limits of pollutants at 140 locations in 50 per cent of the samples, at 103 locations in 75 per cent of the samples. At the remaining 43 locations, the parameters exceeded the standard 100 per cent of the times that the samples were taken.
The other side
“Anybody who wants to get classified needs to have an NOC from the board. As per the norms, it is mandatory
to have STP plants installed before you opt for classification from the tourism ministry,” said
Dr Jitendra Sangewar, regional officer, Mumbai region, MPCB.