Pahalgam: River View Resort, a hotel close to the murmuring waters of Lidder river at Yanner Pahalgam continues to operate illegally with “bureaucratic patronage”.
The hotel is located just a few meters away from Lidder near rafting point Movura.
A huge hotel with dozens of luxury rooms River View is one of the dozens of hotels constructed close to Lidder river in violation of the norms, a few years ago.
After the completion of the hotel, the area was brought under the jurisdiction of Pahalgam development authority and all the commercial establishments that had come up at “ecologically fragile” spot were declared illegal.
Sources said the owner of the hotel after completing the construction approached the tourism department seeking license for commercial operation but the same was denied to him.
“The rich and influential hotelier after being denied NOCs by different departments like Fisheries and Flood & Irrigation, which are mandatory for issuance of tourism license, started doing illegal business without giving damn to the norms,” sources said.
Three years ago, a source said, the hotel owner was stopped from operating illegally but only few days later the said hotelier resumed the operation again with the “blessings” of the top officials of the tourism department.
Sources said that the hotel also does not have a sewage treatment plant for the disposal of solid and liquid sewage produced from the hotel.
“Since the hotel is located few meters from the river waters, so before going for construction of such a huge commercial establishment the hotelier should have constructed STP for treatment of the sewage. The illegally operating hotel remains occupied almost every night and produces a huge amount of sewage,” sources told The Kashmir Press.
The hotelier besides disregarding the norms by carrying with illegal business is not also bothered about damaging the environs of the area.
“We wonder how the different agencies meant to protect the Lidder river are allowed these hoteliers to pollute the water body which is the source of drinking water for lakhs of people living along its banks,” a local said.
Pertinently, secretary tourism last week had assured action against the premises in the area violating norms but no action has been taken so far. The top officers’ inaction despite the Secretary’s assistance has created doubts among the minds of registered hoteliers of Pahalgam and environment activists concerned about environmental degradation.
The Kashmir Press contacted the hotel River View Resort on a contact number that was mentioned on its website.
A person who identified himself as Showkat Ahmad claimed that he is the owner of the hotel.
Ahmad agreed to all the allegations but one reported above. He said that the rules of STP do not apply to his hotel. “The rule is that a hotel that has more than 20 rooms has to have an STP. My hotel has only 18 rooms.”
Asked about other allegations, he said: “My hotel was sealed for violating norms,” he conceded and said that most of the hotels do not follow the rules laid down by the government in Pahalgam.