The sealing of marriage palaces here has left booking parties high and dry in the monsoon wedding season.
About 10 days ago, the Punjab and Haryana high court issued orders to close these illegal banquet halls by August 31. With 40 of 71 venues shut in just one day since the action began on July 27, the owners and the guests have no time to recover.
The places were booked a month in advance. “My brother’s wedding reception is two days from now. How do we find a new place so fast?” said Pritpal Singh, whose family lost the Taran Wala Brigde venue for July 31. “The manager declined to book Harjinder Palace,” said Amritsar’s Jagsirat Singh. “My sister’s wedding is due and there’s no venue available.”
Harpreet Singh, owner of Vicky Palace on the Tarn Taran road said he had returned the booking amount for two functions in the coming week. “Like me,” he said, “many palace owners stare at losses.” Also, thousands of workers are about to lose their jobs. “I brought my family from Khemkaran (Tarn Taran district), 70 kilometres from Amritsar. Where do I take them now?” said sweeper Nirmal Singh.
The owners who gathered at Ravindra Palace on the Chamrang road said the civic body and the administration should have given them a six-month notice, so that they could fulfil the requirements of legal business. Owners’ association president Jagdeep Singh Narula said all palaces were licensed and paying nine taxes and other fees for 25 years. “Still we remain illegal. We don’t know what more the government expects from us.”
The sealing notice states that the palaces were neither opened without the government’s permission nor fulfilling its criteria. The court has asked the deputy commissioner, municipal commissioner, and the principal secretary of the local bodies ministry to appear before it after sealing the palaces or go to jail.