Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, May 29:
The threat of closure looms large over 217 hotels in Odisha’s pilgrim town of Puri that have violated guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) will seal 60 of these hotels as identified by NGT in the first phase.
As per guidelines of NGT, the hotels need to apply for the mandatory ‘Consent to Operate’ approval without which they can’t be allowed to run. However, out of 525 hotels in the town, only 18 have this approval.
“While we have reminded the hotels time and again to apply for this approval, only 225 hotels have complied. NGT had issued a two-week deadline for hotels to apply for it, failing which it had asked OSPCB to close down the rest 300 hotels in an order issued on May 5. However, 217 hotels are yet to apply for it even after the deadline. OSPCB has decided to seal these hotels,” said Hadibandhu Panigrahy, Regional Officer of OSPCB.
The decision has created panic among hotel owners of the city, who were eyeing a surge in business due to upcoming Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath. If carried out, this decision is also going to have a devastating effect on the business of tour operators.
Puri Hotel Owners’ Association has slammed the decision saying the huge inflow of tourists and lack of accommodation arrangements would lead to various issues in the town if these hotels are closed.
It may be noted that more than 30 Lakh visitors are expected in the town during the Nabakalebara.