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MC to initiate hearing from Monday

Shaheen P Parshad, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, November 29, 2013
First Published: 21:21 IST(29/11/2013) | Last Updated: 21:24 IST(29/11/2013)

Following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court to take action against more than 100 illegal hotels and 'serais' (inns) after granting them an opportunity for hearing, the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) is all set to begin its proceedings from Monday.

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Municipal commissioner DPS Kharbanda said: "The hearings will be conducted from Monday, and instructions in this regard have been issued to the senior town planner."

Kharbanda further said there were 150 illegal hotels operating on the periphery of the Golden Temple against which the court had ordered action. He, however, added that when the owners of these hotels approached the court, seeking respite, the court directed the corporation to give them a hearing within the two months' time frame.

Meanwhile, in a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) in 2010, Sarabjit Singh, principal investigator of the PHRO, charged the civic authorities with connivance in the matter. The PHRO also submitted a list of 150 illegal hotels to the high court.

According to Sarabjit Singh, in response to an RTI query, the municipal town planning (MTP) department replied that there were nearly 105 illegal hotels in the walled city area. "Some of the hotels have come up in the area after the MC approved their building plans purportedly in contravention of the high court directives that no fresh building plan should be sanctioned in and around the Galliara area of the Golden Temple till further orders,"he added.

However, there are nearly 40 under construction hotels, including those coming up in the area outside the Jallianwala Bagh, where the Amritsar Improvement Trust had razed shops to pave way to the widening of the road from the Ghee Mandi area to the Golden Temple.

It is learnt from sources that the dimensions of most of these hotels, such as the height, are not in accordance with the norms, while some projections have encroached on the pavements as well.

However, a majority of the edifices are residences-turned-hotels, said sources, adding that the illegal hotels also lack commercial sewerage connections, parking place, and their kitchens and generators are said to be contributing to the pollution in the area.

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