In a relief to 26 restaurant owners, whose businesses had been shut down four days ago, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday granted them conditional approval to reopen.
As many as 34 eateries had been closed down last Saturday by the NGT after a plea filed by Pankaj Sharma had claimed that they were operating without clearances and discharging waste water untreated.
Expressing concerns over the unbridled “mushrooming” of eateries in the city in violation of environmental norms, the NGT pulled up the Delhi government for failing to deal with the staff crunch at Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), a problem that had rendered the body toothless. The tribunal also ordered the formation of a committee to regulate other restaurants.
A bench of the NGT, headed by Justice P Jyothimani, allowed 26 restaurants, which had installed effluent treatment plants (ETP) or were in the process of installing them, to reopen. The court, however, noted that the final decision lay with the DPCC, which would verify the functioning of the plants. Of these 26 restaurants allowed to reopen, the DPCC said, one was found to have an ETP installed, 14 had begun the installation process and 11 were able prove that they had issued purchase orders for the plants.
The NGT imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on these 11 eateries while giving all of them four weeks to finish the installation process.
The restaurants that have not made any progress will not be reopened until examined by the DPCC.
Meanwhile, the NGT pulled up the Delhi government and directed it to fill vacancies in the DPCC, which is suffering from an acute shortage of staff. The committee, which is in-charge of regulating restaurants, has only 26 scientists to inspect over 20,000 restaurants.
The tribunal also constituted a seven-member committee — including members from the three corporations, central Delhi Development Authority, Central Groundwater Authority and the DPCC — to supervise the operation of eating joints in the city. The panel has been directed to submit suggestions for the regulation of Delhi’s restaurants within two months.