The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to reconsider its entire fee structure for granting consent to operate industrial plants including hotels and restaurants. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said that as per section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, the fee which is to be charged has to be determined by the state government and not the pollution control board. The green panel directed the DPCC to get the whole fee structure approved from the competent authority in the Delhi government before notifying such rates and the date from which such fee would be applicable.
“We dispose of this application with a direction to the DPCC to reconsider the entire fee structure and its approval from the competent authority in the Government of NCT Delhi before notifying such rates and the date from which such fee will be applicable. “Nobody has jurisdiction except Parliament alone, to exempt any class of industry to which the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 would not be applicable. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has no jurisdiction to exempt. However, the process of grant of consent can be defined by the Board in exercise of its powers,” the bench said.
The direction came as the NGT disposed of a plea filed by Delhi Hotel and Restaurant Owners’ Association challenging the powers of DPCC to fix and charge consent fee without any notification. The petitioner, an association of guest house owners, contended that guest houses and hotels were separate entities and the former did not have any kitchen or restaurants inside. It had opposed DPCC’s demand for a consent fee for the past 15 years from these establishments and pointed out that the fee had been raised by nearly 100 times.
The association had also submitted that there was no requirement of consent under the Water and Air Act for setting up of a guest house. As per the Water Act 1974 and Air Act 1981, it is mandatory to obtain Consent to Operate (CTO) from respective state pollution control board prior to commencement of the production activities.
The process for obtaining consent to operate involves making an application in a prescribed format to respective state pollution control board along with required documents and scrutiny fees. It is followed by physical inspection of the site to verify the compliance and implementation of the conditions of the consent to establish issued by the pollution control board.