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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

PHRO to file contempt of court petition over new illegal hotels in 'Galliara" area

Shaheen P Parshad, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, June 19, 2014
First Published: 20:53 IST(19/6/2014) | Last Updated: 20:59 IST(19/6/2014)

Even as the Amritsar municipal corporation has given reminders to the owners of illegal hotels in the vicinity of the Golden Temple to demolish the illegal portions of their buildings, they have apparently turned a blind eye to the new hotels that have come up in the Galliara (periphery) of the shrine complex after the direction of the Punjab and Haryana high court that no fresh building plan be sanctioned in the area till further orders.

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There are at least 15 such hotels and they are owned by some local big wigs and politicians. Some of these hotels were opened ahead of the recent Lok Sabha elections. 

The Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), which had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in 2010 in connection with the illegal hotels within the periphery of the Golden Temple, now plans to file a contempt of court petition against the members of the newly set-up special investigation team (SIT), Amritsar deputy commissioner, municipal commissioner and senior town planner (STP) Hemant Batra, who is one of the 32 officials of the MC chargesheeted in this regard. 

Sarabjit Singh, principal investigator, PHRO, said that construction of at least 50 new hotels had started after the high court order that no fresh building be sanctioned in the area till further orders.

"Of these, at least 15 new hotels have opened recently while a few more are likely to come up soon.

The SIT, the district administration and the MC have all turned a blind eye to these hotels. In the coming few days, the PHRO would file a contempt of court petition against them in this regard," he said. 

He accused the officials of the municipal town planning wing of the MC of taking bribe of lakhs of rupees for giving approval to the plans of new hotels in the 'Galliara' area regardless of the high court directives. "STP Hemant Batra was among those chargesheeted, but he was never transferred.

The MC officials demand huge sums of money for sanctioning plans of hotels," he said.

Meanwhile, the MC authorities on Wednesday issued reminders to owners of some hotels in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, asking them to make the necessary changes in their buildings as per the building bylaws within the stipulated time of six months given to them..

The reminder, which cites the previous notice issued to them on January 23 in this regard, says that over four months have passed but the requisite amendments by the hotel owners are yet to be initiated in keeping with the building bylaws. It advises them to get the needful done in the set time period or face action.

Regarding the new hotels that have come up in the 'Galliara' area, Mayor Bakshi Ram Arora said, "I am not aware of any fresh construction of hotels in the area. If at all such a thing has taken place, the MC officials responsible shall bear the brunt".

 

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