The Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) is all set to finalise the proposal to implement building bylaws dating back to 1976 during its house meet on June 10, and offer respite to illegal hotels around the Golden Temple from being razed.
The move comes despite the Punjab and Haryana high court having asked the state government to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the civic body for allowing fresh construction of hotels in the Galliara area despite the court banning the sanctioning of new building plans for the area.
In November last, the MC had passed the proposal to implement the old building laws and had asked the government to seek legal advice in this regard. MC officials claim the government later asked them to invite people’s suggestions and objections regarding the proposal.
“(But) no objections have been received in this regard. The matter shall be placed before the house. The resolution of the house shall be conveyed to the high court. Further action shall be taken as per court orders,” said mayor Bakshi Ram Arora, while expressing ignorance about the contempt notice.
In the past, the government is also believed to have asked the civic body to revert to the old bylaws.
According to the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), which had filed a public interest litigation in 2010, there are around 200 illegal hotels at Galliara near the Golden Temple.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the state government identified 131 such hotels. These illegal hotels include ‘sarais’ run by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).
Information provided by MC sources reveal that even after the court order banning fresh sanctions, at least 52 new hotels came up in the walled city area in 2012-13, and many more later on, of which several have started operations, inviting contempt of court notice.
While the MC has made several attempts at sealing these establishments in the past, the owners of these establishments approached deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and also held protests to thwart the move.