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150 guesthouses fail cop’s test

With just six months left to go, the Commonwealth Games seem to be hit by another problem: that of accommodation. The guesthouses meant to accommodate the tourists are nowhere near completion.

delhi Updated: Apr 02, 2010 00:51 IST
Neelam Pandey

With just six months left to go, the Commonwealth Games seem to be hit by another problem: that of accommodation. The guesthouses meant to accommodate the tourists are nowhere near completion.

What has worsened the situation is the rejection of licence applications of nearly 150 guesthouses in the Capital by Delhi Police’s licensing branch. Most of these are in Central Delhi’s Paharganj and Karol Bagh, a regular haunt of tourists. As per the Delhi Police Act, if these guesthouses continue to run, they can be shut down.

“We had received applications from 500 guesthouse. Applications of those guesthouses that didn’t meet the criteria such as not having fire clearance or no objection certificate from the MCD have been rejected,” said Sandeep Goel, additional commissioner of police, (licensing).

With the city already short of nearly 30,000 rooms, this will only worsen the situation. According to the MCD, more than 1 lakh residential units are needed to board and lodge visitors during the Games. These guesthouses, if licenced, would have solved the problem.

“On one hand applications are being rejected and on the other the MCD is not issuing regular licences. What are we to do? Provisional licences are nothing but an eyewash as once the Games are over, we will not be able to run them,” said Arun Gupta, general secretary of Delhi Hotel Sangh.

Guesthouses that came up after February 2007 were not being issued licences earlier but the government had recently given directions to issue provisional/ad-hoc licences to them. The MCD will now issue provisional licences to such guesthouses that do not meet the criteria such as those who have made payment of conversion charges and parking charges on self-assessment basis, and who do not fulfil the building by-laws requirement among others. In January, the MCD had admitted that of 1,400 guesthouse owners who have applied for licences, 80 per cent have not been issued licences.