| Fishermen on the Puri beach. (PTI file picture)
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 23: The Puri district administration has ordered the public health division and the Central Electricity Supply Company to snap water and electricity connections of hotels which discharge hazardous sewerage and wastewater into the sea.
An inspection, conducted by public health engineers, officers and sanitary engineers, was carried out in 35 hotels, holiday homes and lodges after the media reported on the pollution of the beaches in the area. A copy of the inspection team’s report is with The Telegraph.
“By and large, most of the hotels were releasing sewage directly into the sea,” said Jagannath Bastia, a member of the team and president of the Beach Protection Council. The team said though the hotel owners knew about the sanitary requirements, none seemed interested in meeting them.
While almost all the hotels, including the renowned Puri Hotel, did not install the sand trap or screening chambers in their sewage discharge systems, several others flushed out untreated wastewater directly into the main drainage canal that goes directly into the sea. Media reports had pointed out that these pollutants were washed onto the beaches.
The hoteliers did not seem too concerned by the Puri district administration which has decided to file cases under Section 133 of the CrPC against them. “We have not got any notice,” said S. Roy of Puri Hotel.
The executive officer of the Puri Municipality has also been directed to seal the sewage outlets of the polluting hotels till they correct their flaws. Once cases are filed against the hotels under Section 133, they will have to overhaul their sewage system immediately. Some hoteliers have, however, asked the administration to give them another “chance” to correct themselves as the inspection team had caught them “off guard”.
Sources said the Puri district administration would write to the Orissa Pollution Control Board to withdraw the consent given to the hotels for operating under the Water Pollution (Prevention) Act, 1974.
Earlier, an inspection of the seawater by the board had found that the biological oxygen demand — an indicator of how harmful or habitable the water is for micro-organisms — to be 110. A count above 100 is considered to be a cause for concern.
Environmentalists have demanded that the state pollution control board step in and book the offending hotels under the stringent Water Pollution Act which has provision of a five- year prison term and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. “It’s high time the hotels were taken to task for making the sea unfit for bathing,” a wildlife activist said.
Incidentally, a similar exercise was undertaken in October 2001 by the municipality in which 13 hotels were booked under Section 133. All the errant hotels are still running and are among the 35 violators.