Himachal issues notice to Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall

Shimla, May 23 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh government has issued a notice to Oberoi Group’s Wildflower Hall hotel on the outskirts of this capital town for violating environment norms, an official said here Sunday.

‘A notice has been issued to Wildflower Hall hotel for discharging sewage into a natural drain in forests adjoining the hotel,’ state pollution control board member-secretary Nagin Nanda told IANS.

He said the discharge from the hotel is contaminating drinking water sources of more than 12 villages located in the hotel vicinity.

Wildflower Hall, at Charabra at a height of 8,300 feet amid thick verdant forests of pine and cedar, is sought after by high-end tourists, celebrities and politicians. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka, who is constructing her cottage near the hotel, are among the frequent visitors there.

Nanda said the pollution control board officials, acting on the complaint of the villagers, found that the hotel was discharging the treated sewage water, meant for irrigating hotel gardens, into the drain.

‘We have collected water and soil samples from the nearby villages and found that these are getting contaminated due to discharge of effluents,’ the official said.

Wildflower Hall general manager Robert Mason, however, said: ‘We have not received any notice from the government.’

Wildflower Hall was once the residence of the commander-in-chief of the British Army.

After India’s independence, the building was handed over to the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation for running a hotel. It was gutted in a fire in 1992. The government in 1995 handed over the property to the Oberois to re-construct it into a luxury spa.

At that time, the cost of constructing the 85-room hotel was pegged at Rs.400 million.

Besides Wildflower Hall, the Oberoi Group has two other hotels in Shimla – Clarke’s and Cecil.

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