NEW DELHI: Over 700 guesthouses and small hotels in Paharganj and Karol Bagh have been issued closure notices by Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) for illegal extraction of groundwater using borewells.
DPCC in its notice has asked the guesthouses to take corrective measures within 15 days, failing which would result in disconnection of electricity and water, along with the cancellation of licence.
“According to Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), Paharganj in New Delhi has been declared as an overexploited area, and illegal extraction of groundwater by the hotels/guesthouses without having any valid NOC from CGWA are thereby violating the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,” said one such notice issued by DPCC to a guesthouse in Paharganj, a copy of which is with TOI.
Guesthouse owners, however, said borewell water was being used only for bathing purposes, with no commercial activities, kitchens or laundries functioning at any of these smaller units. “The need to use borewells arose as the Delhi Jal Board water only comes for around four hours each day – two in the morning and two in the afternoon. A number of hotels and guesthouses took permission from CGWA to use borewells prior to 2014, but what will the new ones do that came up after 2014?” asked Sourabh Chhabra, secretary, Paharganj Guesthouse Owner’s Association, adding that until Monday, at least 700 notices had been issued in the area.
Ashwini Arora, general secretary of the association and another guesthouse owner in Paharganj, said sewer charges of Rs 2,000 for extraction purposes were already being paid by guesthouses, as was stated on Delhi Jal Board (DJB) website, however, they were still being targeted by the authorities. “Community borewells have been created by DJB nearby, but guesthouses that are doing no commercial activity are now being penalised. The industry has already suffered a lot,” Arora said.
A senior DPCC official told TOI that the notices were issued based on a list provided by DJB, following an NGT order over illegal extraction using borewells in Delhi.
“A number of guesthouses were found using illegal borewells to extract water. These hotels and guesthouses also don’t have any consent to establish or operate under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, which are mandatory to run guesthouses and hotels,” said the official.