The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked state authorities to initiate action against 116 more hotels and guesthouses operating illegally in and around Dharamsala town and also to immediately disconnect their water and electricity connections.
During the resumed hearing, a bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel was informed that the state pollution control board had carried out inspection of 309 hotels in Dharamsala and its suburbs McLeodganj and Naddi and found that 116 of these were violating rules.
The judges were hearing a public interest litigation on environment degradation in and around Dharamsala, the abode of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, some 250 km from the state capital.
Earlier this month, the bench directed the authorities to disconnect water and electricity supply of 49 similar units. Later, 26 more units were added.
“We are happy to note that at least now the pollution control board has started performing its statutory duty,” the judges observed in an order dated December 19 that was provided to the media on Thursday.
Listing the case for the next hearing on Friday and directed the state Tourism Director to be present in the court, the bench said: “Himachal Pradesh essentially is a tourist destination. We want tourism to grow.
“Endeavour is not to stop the same in any manner. Perhaps, people running such establishments are not even aware of the factum of existence of the laws of compulsorily for getting certificates of registration or obtaining consent to establish.”
“Though, ignorance of law cannot be an excuse, but nonetheless, it is also the duty and obligation of the authorities to not only make people aware but also sensitise them about the same,” the bench added.