HP monsoon session: Uproar in House over move to lease HPTDC properties, CM ask chief secy to submit report
The probe to ascertain veracity of the brochure listing 14 Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation properties on lease will be headed by chief secretary BK Aggarwal.Updated: Aug 27, 2019 22:26 IST
Congress members protesting against the government's move to lease HPTDC-owned properties raised slogans and staged a walkout from the Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday, even as chief minister Jai Ram Thakur ordered a probe into the matter.
The probe to ascertain veracity of the brochure listing 14 Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation properties on lease will be headed by chief secretary BK Aggarwal. The brochure was uploaded on the website of the rising Himachal global investors meet.
Congress legislators, Mukesh Agnihotri, Jagat Singh Negi and Ram Lal Thakur, asked the speaker to take up issue under Rule 67 and to suspend all other business listed for day. However, speaker Rajeev Bindal rejected their demand and said the issue could be discussed on a private-members’ day.
Agitated over the rejection, members of opposition resorted to sloganeering against the government. Leader of opposition Agnihotri alleged that the government had put Himachal on sale. He said, “The list of government hotels on lease could not have been uploaded by accident as the rates of the properties were also listed on the website. Interested parties have already applied.”
The BJP legislators raised counter slogans with gusto, resulting in a bedlam in the House. Bindal proceeded with question hour amid pandemonium.
Later, the speaker allowed Agnihotri to take up the issue. Agnihotri said it was the CM’s duty to protect the state’s interest. “How could the decision to disinvest from government properties be taken without the CM’s knowledge?” he asked.
CM Jai Ram Thakur said it was not the government’s intention to sell the properties: “There is no question of selling the properties. The Congress government, in 1995, had leased out a prime tourism property to a private company. The site is now running as a high-end hotel. Himachal gained nothing from it. The Congress had also disinvested from the tourism-owned Anglars bungalow at Katrain in Kullu,” he said.
He said the brochure mentioning the lease details of hotels was erroneously uploaded on the website and was later removed. As far as the issue of leasing out of units runs by tourism development corporation is concerned, Thakur said, “I want to inform the House that the government was deliberating over leasing out only those properties, which had been running in loss for quite a long time.”
Dissatisfied with the CM’s clarification, the Congress leaders continued to raise slogans and later staged a walk out. Condemning the walk out, the CM said the opposition was attempting to create a mountain out of a mole hill.
‘Amending HP Ceiling of Land Holding Act not under consideration’
On the issue of tea gardens, Thakur said, the previous government had brought up the issue of amending Sections 6A and 7A of the HP Ceiling of Land Holding Act, 1972, for change of land use and transfer of land.
“On December 27, 2017, the Congress government had in-principle agreed to promote tourism of tea gardens, which had been provided relaxation under the Land Ceiling Act and also to expedite change of land use and land transfer,” said the chief minister. “Under our regime, the matter is not under consideration.”
First Published: Aug 27, 2019 22:26 IST