After being slapped with a contempt of court notice and summons to appear in the Punjab and Haryana high court on March 2 in the case pertaining to the illegal hotels in the Galliara area, the Amritsar municipal corporation on Thursday seemed to have awakened from its slumber over the issue to take cognisance of the matter.
Not only did the civic officials held a meeting to discuss a plan of action in this regard, but they also sent the senior town planner (STP) to the area to take stock of the situation.
While it is yet to be seen whether the MC initiates any action in this regard or not, the STP has confirmed the presence of illegal structures in the area, with many more coming up at present.
STP Shakti Sagar Bhatia, who visited the vicinity of the Golden Temple, said he had spotted some illegal hotels and other commercial buildings in the area. “These buildings have come up in gross violation of the building bylaws,” he said. He added that he had also witnessed the work being undertaken on some fresh constructions.
“Work on at least four fresh constructions is underway at present. I shall present a report in this regard to the higher officials. A plan of action shall be chalked out to deal with these structures, a majority of which are likely to be sealed,” he said.
Notably, last year the MC had made at least four attempts at sealing these illegal hotels, but had failed miserably in the face of resistance posed by their owners who had held protests, besides even approaching Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government, too, has time and again made it clear that it supported the demands of the owners of these illegal hotels, as in 2014 it had initiated measures for offering relief to them through one-time settlement. A year ago, it had directed the MC to bring into force old building by-laws to offer relief to the owners of these hotels.
In keeping with the same, the MC, in its meeting held in its house meet held in August 2014, gave its nod for the second time to the proposal of bringing these hotels under the old building bylaws, dating back to 1976.
While the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) had filed a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana high court in this regard in 2010, the high court in an order in 2012 had banned the sanction of fresh building plans in the Galliara area. However, the constructions of hotels in the vicinity of the Golden Temple continued all the same, resulting in filing of a contempt petition in this regard.