The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Amritsar municipal corporation to take action against more than 100 illegal hotels and serais in the walled city of Amritsar as per law after granting them an opportunity of hearing.
The division bench, comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih, has directed the corporation to submit the action taken report before February 3 and has also ordered that if any of the officials are found delaying action or not performing their functions in the case, they should be penalised for violation of court directions.
The directions came during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by Sarabjit Singh. The court was informed that the petitioner had got information under the RTI Act from the municipal town planner in which it was informed that there were 105 hotels, serais and guesthouses in the walled city area of Amritsar and all of them did not confirm to the building bylaws for hotel purposes. The petitioner had submitted that the hotels and guesthouses abutting the Galiara of the Golden Temple were creating pollution and nuisance.
During the hearing of the case, municipal commissioner DPS Kharbanda and senior town planner Hemant Batra were present in the court. The court was informed that assistant town planners Bankey Bihari, Ramesh Chhabra and Suresh Raj had been chargesheeted under the Punjab Civil Services Rules, 1970, for major penalty for dereliction of duty in checking of illegal hotels in the area.
They informed the court that notices had been issued to all the hotels except the cases where there was an order of stay passed by the competent court. The court was also informed that 11 hotel buildings were partly demolished on November 19 during a demolition drive with the help of police. It was also submitted that four illegal buildings were being run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and they had requested for grant of some time to make alternative arrangements.
Also, the officers informed the court that the corporation had a sanctioned strength of 20 building inspectors against which only four were functioning as of now.
The petitioner had also mentioned about a news item that had appeared in Hindustan Times on August 22 mentioning that there were more than 400 illegal hotels in the walled city of Amritsar.