After two failed attempts in August and October, the Amritsar municipal corporation on Saturday issued orders for sealing of 125 illegal hotels in the Galliara area in the periphery of the Golden Temple on December 11.
The orders have been issued in the wake of the directives of Punjab and Haryana high court regarding the illegal hotels in the area. Meanwhile, the owners of these hotels are relying on deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal's assurance that their establishments would not come to any harm.
These 125 hotels are among the 131 illegal hotels identified by the special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the Punjab government to look into the matter. Of the 131 hotels, six have obtained stay from the court.
Among the hotels, which are to be sealed, are the 'serais' run by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). The MC plans to go ahead with the process of sealing on December 11.
Following the issuance of orders the owners of these hotels and 'serais' plan to put up stiff resistance before the MC to prevent the sealing of their establishments. Previously too, the MC had issued orders to seal these establishments and had twice made unsuccessful attempts at sealing them in August and October this year.
"Come what may, we shall not allow the MC to seal any of these hotels. As in the past, the civic body would have to try and cut through a thick wall of protestors to reach the illegal hotels," said Surinder Singh, a hotelier.
"They just cannot obliterate the hospitality industry of the city in one day when deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has assured us that the government is working at a policy to regularise our establishments," said Parminder Singh, another hotelier.
In March this year, the MC had issued speaking orders to these hotels to rectify the violations as per the building bylaws or face action. However in July, the MC House gave its nod to the proposal to implement old building bylaws dating back to 1976, which was expected to offer relief to these hoteliers.
In another meeting in August, the MC House urged the government to seek legal opinion in this regard. A few days later, it served 72-hour sealing notices to these establishments, which brought them on the warpath. The Punjab Human Rights Organization (PHRO) had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in 2010 in this connection.
Once operating as shops and residences, these were converted into hotels by their owners for big profit, considering the high footfall of pilgrims and tourists in this part of the city.
However, a majority of these establishments lack parking places, while some have encroached upon the footpath. These hotels also lack commercial sewerage connections and have been using domestic sewage with limited capacity. Above all, the hotels in question lack registration under the Serai Act.
Officialspeak: Municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal said that action will be taken against the illegal hotels as there were court orders in this regard. "The sealing would take place on December 11," he said.