Coming down heavily on illegal hotels and commercial establishments at Dharamshala and its surrounding areas in Kangra district, the Himachal Pradesh High Court (HC) on Thursday directed the authorities to take strict action against such units.

The division bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel observed that the Pollution Control Board has carried out inspection of 309 hotels under Municipal Corporation, Dharmashala as well as Mcleodganj and Nadi.

Out of these, 116 units were found to be not complying with the provisions of the set laws. As such, directions were issued to the authorities for disconnecting supply of water and electricity.

Earlier, on 15 December, Deputy Director Tourism, Kangra had informed the court that only 217 number of units had registered themselves as hotels or guest houses, out of which 49 units were operating without registration.

These units were not compliant with the provisions of HP Tourism Development Registration Act, 2002 as also Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the court had directed the authorities to take action.

Besides this, water and electricity connection of such units was also directed to be disconnected forthwith. The court, however, expressed happiness on the reports and observed, “at least now the Pollution Control Board has started performing its statutory duty”.

The court observed that HP essentially is a tourist destination and the action should not be construed as stopping or hindering tourism activities in any manner.

“Perhaps, people running such establishments are not even aware of the factum of existence of the laws of compulsorily for getting 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 court ruled.

The court directed Director, Tourism department to file affidavit and remain present on the next date of hearing on 22 December.

The court also expressed concern over industries violating environmental laws in Parwanoo industrial area in Solan district and directed Municipal Council, Parwanoo, to file an affidavit on municipal solid waste and recovery of dues from defaulting units.