Only 40 hotels in city have MPCB clearance

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Data from the health department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) show around 600 hotels that have lodging permission run in the city but file inspections at the Pune office of the MPCB by Newsline under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 reveal that only 40 hotels and restaurants in the city have the mandatory environmental clearance from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).

This has put a question mark on whether the others are adhering to environmental norms. MPCB guidelines stipulate that for hotels to obtain environmental clearance, they need to follow several strictures, other than getting the mandatory permission from the local body.

For instance, a hotel that produces more than 10 cubic metre of sewage water a day needs to have its own sewage treatment plant (STP). The hotels also need to dispose of solid waste as per guidelines. Action can be initiated against hotels that function without proper clearance under the Environmental Protection Act.

While officials put the onus on hoteliers to seek the clearance, activists say the Board is not serious about implementing its own guidelines. There seems to have been no regular inspections to check whether hotels adhere to green rules. File inspections showed that the MPCB had last year issued notice to a prominent hotel in Koregaon Park area.

A D Mohekar, regional officer of the MPCB, however, said inspections are carried out by the Board at the hotels only after any complaint is received. "We do not carry out regular inspections at hotels," he said.

Suresh Talera, chairman of the Talera Group of Hotels said they have been trying through the Hoteliers and Restaurant Association (H&RA) to get members comply with environmental rules. "As clearances are required only for hotels of certain capacity, it would not be applicable to all hotels. Also, we must understand that STPs would require space which at times would be a concern for hoteliers," he said.

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