The owners of marriage palaces blocked the alleviated road near Bhandari Bridge here to protest against sealing of marriage palaces in jurisdiction of Municipal Corporation Amritsar (MCA).
Initially, the protesters blocked the entire bridge, but after the police intervened, they shifted the protest on the road leading to Jalandhar. The owners raised slogans against the civic body officials and the government.
Around two weeks back, the Punjab and Haryana high court had ordered the MC to close these banquet halls by August 31 and appear before the HC with an action report.
Following the HC orders, the MC has sealed about 65 palaces till Saturday and are likely to seal the remaining six illegal banquet halls by Sunday. There are 86 marriage palaces in Amritsar in all.
“The MC and district administration should have informed us about the violations at least six months back, so that we could meet the requirements as per the court’s order,” said Jagdeep Singh Narula, president of the Marriage Palaces Association.
He said all palaces are licensed and paying nine taxes and other fees for 25 years. “Still we remain illegal. We don’t know what more the government expects from us. The government should clarify the terms and conditions,” Narula added.
The sealing notice states that the palaces were neither opened without the government’s permission nor fulfilling its criteria. The court has asked the deputy commissioner, municipal commissioner, and the principal secretary of the local bodies ministry to appear before it after sealing the palaces or go to jail.
On Wednesday, the owners had organised a meeting with MC officials at Ram Bagh garden here to discuss their concern. During the meeting, mayor Bakhshi Ram Arora and MC commissioner Sonali Giri said they will follow the HC orders.
In 2010, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, alleging that marriage palaces have been established illegally in the city.
In 2012, the court issued notice to the civic body to take action against the violators. The owners, however, didn’t respond to the MC notices, which asked them to do the needful to get the properties regualrised.
In 2013, the complainant filed contempt case against the administration.
The MC issued notices again to the owners in 2014, but only 15 of 86 palaces did the needful to conform with the norms, sources said.