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Finally, MC lends ear to owners of illegal hotels

The Amritsar municipal corporation on Monday initiated the process to hear the claims of proprietors of illegal hotels situated in the periphery of the Golden Temple. However, due to the lukewarm response received by the owners of these establishments, the civic body issued notices to them to reappear on December 23.
By Shaheen P Parshad | Hindustan Times, Amritsar
UPDATED ON DEC 16, 2013 11:10 PM IST

The Amritsar municipal corporation on Monday initiated the process to hear the claims of proprietors of illegal hotels situated in the periphery of the Golden Temple.


However, due to the lukewarm response received by the owners of these establishments, the civic body issued notices to them to reappear on December 23.

The civic body officials claimed that three committees had been constituted for this purpose.

Senior town planner Hemant Batra -- who has been entrusted with the job of hearing the claims of these hotel owners -- said, "On the first day, 14 persons were summoned for the hearing. But only six turned up and submitted their documents. The remaining proprietors have been asked to appear before the committee concerned on December 23."

He said the hearings would be conducted on a daily basis.

The Punjab Human Rights Organization (PHRO) had in 2010, filed a public interest litigation (PIL), in the court regarding construction of illegal hotels around the Golden Temple. The PHRO had also submitted a list of 150 such establishments to the high court.

Sarabjit Singh, principal investigator, PHRO, said, "The dimensions of a majority of hotels such as height are not in accordance with the norms. Some structures have projections and have encroached upon the pavements as well. A majority of the structures are residences, which have been converted into hotels."

"The illegal hotels lack commercial sewerage connections, parking space, while their kitchens and generator sets are adding to the pollution in the area," added Singh.

Earlier, the court had ordered action against these hotels. However, with the owners approaching the court seeking respite, the latter directed the municipal corporation to hear their grievances, giving the MC two months' time to arrive at a final decision.

Surinder Singh, president, Amritsar Hotel Association, said the process of hearing the claims of owners had finally got underway.

"A few hoteliers were summoned today for the hearing. However, we've come to know that the process will formally kick off by December 23," he added.

Singh said a number of owners of these establishments had pinned their hopes on these hearings as their livelihood depended on the illegal structures.

Municipal commissioner DPS Kharbanda, said, "The hearings had been initiated in accordance with the orders of the court. The hearings will be a daily affair. Three committees have been constituted to look into the matter."

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