Breather for 25 Hauz Khas Village restaurants

New Delhi, Sep 25 : The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Wednesday allowed 25 restaurants at the Hauz Khas Village here to run on the condition of installing effluent treatment plants (ETPs) within four weeks.

A bench headed by Justice P. Jyothimani permitted 25 of the 34 restaurants to resume business.

Of the 34 restaurants, 22 have responded to the court's notice. While one has already installed an effluent treatment plant, 14 others have begun the process.

Another 11 eateries said they have ordered ETPs but the installation work was yet to start. These were asked to pay Rs.10,000 each to the NGT Bar Association.

Four weeks' time has also been given to these restaurants for installing ETPs and these have been allowed to operate.

The NGT Sep 20 shut 34 restaurants in the area after a petition was filed against their polluting the 14th-century village. The area has a lake, a green belt and ruins of archaeological importance in the vicinity of the restaurants.

Other restaurants which have still not initiated any process for installing ETPs and did not respond to the notice will remain shut.

Restaurant owners, meanwhile, expressed relief over the order.

"It is a relief. We have our responsibility towards society and environment, and this came as a check. It may look harsh, but we are keeping a positive outlook towards it," said Satender Singh Sarna, president, Hauz Khas Village Traders Association.

Advocate Sumedha Dua, appearing for petitioner Pankaj Sharma, however aired her reservations regarding the NGT decision.

"If the restaurants are allowed to start functioning without installing the ETPs, it means we are permitting them to go and pollute again," said Dua.

She also argued the order would act as a condonation of the commercial activities of those eateries which are operating in residential areas.

The tribunal also criticised the Delhi government for the Delhi Pollution Control Board being understaffed and directed the state government to take immediate action.

The tribunal also formed a seven-member committee to suggest ways on how all restaurants across the capital could be made to adhere to pollution-control norms. The committee will submit its report in two months.

--IANS (Posted on 26-09-2013)

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