Even though the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) acted against fresh "illegal"hotels cropping up in the neighbourhood of Golden Temple on Tuesday night, it abstained from touching big establishments, including sarais (inns) constructed "illegally"by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) in the area.
Office bearers of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), which had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in 2010, seeking removal of illegitimate hotels in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, alleged that there were as many as 10 sarais of the SGPC operating in violation to the norms, with the MC turned a blind eye to it.
When contacted, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar welcomed the action initiated by the MC against the illegal hotels around the Golden Temple. "In this regard, the SGPC has been demanding action against illegal hotels for a long time. Be it illegal or legal, both kinds of hotels should not be allowed in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, as they cause pollution, which is harmful to the beauty of the shrine,"he said.
However, he denied that the sarais had been constructed in violation to the norms. "The SGPC has not violated any norms while constructing the sarais. The sarais have only been constructed to house the pilgrims. Moreover, no cooking activity takes place here, as devotees partake in langar at the improvised langar hall,"he added.
PHRO principal investigator Sarabjit Singh said that there were around 10 SGPC sarais that had come up on the periphery of the Golden Temple in gross violation of the norms.
He added that besides the violation of the Sarai Act, the building plans of these sarais had not been passed duly, while they were also using the domestic sewerage instead of the commercial one.
"Not only their plans lacked sanction, but these lack licenses under the Sarai Act. Moreover, these are violating the pre-requisites pertaining to the height of the buildings,"said Sarabjit Singh. He maintained that the PHRO had even furnished the pictures of one of the sarais in the high court.
Municipal commissioner DPS Kharbanda said as far as violations were concerned, the law was the same for everyone. "Action shall be taken against the illegal hotels and sarais in accordance with the law,"he said, adding that a notice in this regard was issued to the SGPC as well.