The Federation of Small and Medium Hotels and Guesthouses (FOSAM) in Goa has demanded that the small and medium hotels should be exempt from getting the consent-to-operate from the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB).
The federation has also demanded that the tourism department license and other licenses from fire and safety, excise and food and drugs should be for a minimum of five years. The government should also give relief on sales tax and luxury tax to hotels in Goa.
FOSAM president Serafino Cota told TOI on Sunday that while multi-storeyed residential buildings and huge rent-back apartments, with hundreds of units where people live and cook, are exempt from obtaining consent from the pollution control board on grounds that rent-backs are not an industry, small hotels with even 10 rooms are bound to obtain the consent of the board simply because they fall under the tourism industry.
Cota said, "The big rent-backs generate much more sewage then the small hotels. Yet they are exempt from obtaining the board's consent. Also, the board is only content to collect the fees. It is not concerned with specifying any guidelines on how to dispose the sewage. This is like giving us license to pollute."
The hotels have to obtain consent of the board on two counts: the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. Cota is at a loss to understand why small and medium hotels should pay consent fees for air pollution. "Which way do we pollute the air? We might only have a few exhaust fans," Cota said.
As regards water pollution, FOSAM members feel that the consent fees should be based on the volume of the sewage generated. FOSAM members point to a government notification which states that the normal sewage generated by a person per day is 220 litres. A rent-back facility with 75 rooms and an average of two persons per room will therefore generate 33,000 litres per day. This is much higher than the sewage generated by a 10-room hotel. Yet the hotel pays exorbitant consent fees and the rent back pays nothing, say FOSAM members.
Said a FOSAM member, "The fees are discriminatory and exorbitant. The criteria for fixing the fee structure is also faulty. At least they should categorise the hotels according to the number of beds like in other states. Hotels with less than 50 beds fall in the green category and should be exempt from consent of the pollution board."
According to a survey done by FOSAM, over 95% of the tourism industry in Goa is supported by small and medium hotels. Five star hotels comprise only 5% of tourism in Goa. "Despite our huge contribution, we face the maximum burden because we are soft targets," said a FOSAM member.
Said Cota, "We are not refusing everything. We are ready to agree at a middle point. Give us guidelines we can follow. Come out with sensible fees, come out with sensible solutions. We are also concerned about the environment. Together, we will protect it."
FOSAM has also demanded that all licenses from tourism department, fire and safety, excise and food and drugs should be valid for a period of five years. Renewing the licenses every year entails running from pillar to post and by the time the license comes through, the season is already over.
FOSAM also demanded that the government should reduce the taxes on rooms and maintain them on food and drinks. Said Cota, "Otherwise the overall price goes up and Goa becomes an expensive destination."
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Posted By : Mr. Serafino Cota , South Goa on 30/03/2009