PCB Targeting Kashmir Tourism Industry Only: KEA

16 July 2014
Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: The Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) led by Farooq Dar and Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Association (KHARA) today came down heavily on the State Pollution Control Board accusing it of targeting Kashmir hotel industry only. The two organizations termed the sealing of hotels by the PCB in Lal Chowk here as an attempt to 'damage the tourism industry of Kashmir.' The PCB Tuesday sealed five hotels in Lal Chowk here for failing to install Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs). Ad hoc Chairman KEA Farooq Dar said that cabinet decision on STPs wherein the government has agreed to install the facility of its own, 'the hotels are being made target.' President KHARA Showkat Chowdhary said the state government by virtue of cabinet decision read with order no. 221-FST of 2014 'had clearly directed the PCB not to seal any hotel constructed before 2010.' 'Government in its order said that the hotels would be connected with the common STPs to be constructed by it. However, despite such clear orders the PCB has embarked on an exercise to close the hotels,' Chowdhary explained. The KHARA President said in another government order issued vide SRO no. 475 TSM of 2013 dated 29- 11- 2013 the government has decided to set up common STPs for wastewater generated from the hotels in the cities of Srinagar and Jammu. 'It is not possible for the hoteliers in Lal Chowk to construct STPs. In Lal Chowk, government doesn't even have a space to build lavatory points. How can then the hoteliers in the area construct separate STPs. The hotels have been constructed decades ago, when there were no such guidelines,' Chowdhary said. The hotel association also flayed PCB for 'only imposing laws in Kashmir region and leaving out Jammu, Katra and Ladakh where tourist inflow is much higher than Kashmir.' 'PCB is implementing decisions in Jammu region only verbally but in Srinagar it acts and ensures sealing of the hotels. This clearly speaks of double standard and a move aimed at hampering tourism season,' Chowhdary said. Dar alleged that Jammu region has always been favored while Kashmir has been ignored. 'From the allocation of funds to implementing ban on hotels, Kashmir has always been sidelined.' He said Jammu region gets more pilgrim tourists and its hotels should have been sealed first 'but law has been enforced in Kashmir only and Jammu, Katra have been spared'. Meanwhile, both KHARA and KEA have appealed the government to construct the STPs quickly 'which will help resolve this issue.' They said that hoteliers were ready to pay for the usage charges of the STPs.