The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday asked for a detailed report from the state government and the state pollution control board on the environmental damage caused by the Gupta family weddings in Chamoli district’s Auli town, PTI reported.
Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma ordered the state government, the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board and the Chamoli district magistrate to submit a report within 10 days. The court asked the authorities to report if the hosts had followed pollution control norms and how the tonnes of waste left behind by the wedding party had been cleared.
The court also asked whether biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste had been disposed of separately and its adverse effects on the Dhauli Ganga and other surrounding waterbodies. The High Court also asked the pollution control board to examine the pollution levels and specify the penalty amount that should be demanded from the organisers as compensation.
The state pollution control board, in a report, had said that 320 tonnes of waste had to be cleared after the event. The report further said that nearly 200 workers stayed at the resort during the four-day wedding celebrations and that they had to defecate in the open due to the lack of toilets for them. Later, the human waste had flown along with rainwater into the Dhauli Ganga, it said. The wedding of Ajay Gupta’s son Suryakant Gupta took place from June 18 to June 20, and Atul Gupta’s son Shashank Gupta’s wedding was held from June 20 to June 22.
The South Africa-based Gupta family celebrated their sons’ weddings in the Auli hill town last month. Environmental concerns had been raised even before the events started with the Uttarakhand High Court asking the family to deposit Rs 3 crore with the Chamoli district magistrate as security money on account of the possible environment damage.
The controversial non-resident Indian business family had reportedly spent around Rs 200 crore on the weddings. Chamoli district administration had imposed a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh on businessmen Ajay Gupta and Atul Gupta for leaving tonnes of waste after the wedding. While Rs 1 lakh fine was levied for defecating in the open, Rs. 1.5-lakh penalty was levied for scattering garbage in the area.
The Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – are Indian expatriate businessmen who have been controversial in South Africa because of their links to ousted President Jacob Zuma.