The Punjab government has set in motion the process of formulating a policy to offer a much-needed respite to owners of “illegal hotels” during a meeting convened in Chandigarh on Wednesday even as the Punjab and Haryana high court had directed the Amritsar municipal corporation to initiate action against them.
The meeting came ahead of the MC’s proposed sealing drive against these hotels on December 15 and was attended by bureaucrats, including Rahul Tiwari, principal secretary to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the chairman of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Punjab government to look into the matter of illegal hotels; BS Brar, chief town planner; Amritsar municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal and senior town planner Hemant Batra.
According to sources, the government plans to raise the matter before the cabinet and has started to work out the legalities of introducing a policy in this regard.
Earlier, the MC was scheduled to seal the illegal hotels on December 11, but postponed it to December 15, citing some administrative reason. The Punjab government, meanwhile, has time and again made it clear that it supports the demand of the owners.
Earlier this year, the government had directed the MC to bring into force the 1976 building by-laws to offer a relief to the owners following a demand of the Amritsar Hotel Association.
In July and August, the MC had held two meetings to accord its approval to the 1976 building by-laws and sent it for the government’s approval to provide relief to the illegal hotel owners.
The affected hoteliers, who met deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal a few days back in connection with the MC’s sealing drive on December 15, said the deputy CM had assured them that there would be no harm to them.
Mayor Bakshi Ram Arora said something must be going on in this regard as the municipal commissioner was in Chandigarh for the past two days.
“As the MC has passed the proposal to regularise the illegal hotels under the 1976 building by-laws and sent the proposal to the government. The government plans to raise the issue before the cabinet and process has been set in motion to formulate a policy in this regard,” he said, the MC favours regularising of the hotels on one-time settlement basis.
However, municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated attempts.
Harinder Singh, chairman, Amritsar Hotel Association, said the hoteliers were hopeful that the government would definitely do something for them. “We also have the assurance of the deputy CM. The government is working on a policy in this regard,” he added.