A bird’s eye-view of the Golden Temple, which is surrounded by various commercial units, in Amritsar.

MC for one-time settlement to regularize hotels around Darbar Sahib

Amritsar, Punjab: The municipal corporation authorities today submitted its ‘one-time settlement’ proposal to regularise over 125 hotels, guest houses and inns operating around the Golden Temple to the Local Bodies Department secretary at Chandigarh.

The sanctity of these hospitality units was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by a resident in 2010 while stating that these were illegal and in violation of the prescribed building bylaws.

Acting on the PIL, the HC has already ordered the authorities to initiate action against illegal commercial structures by July 23. However, the next date of hearing has been fixed as August 22.

The MC House, during its general meeting on July 11, had unanimously given its nod to go ahead with the proposal of regularising as many as 125 hotels, guest houses and inns by putting them under the ambit of compoundable offence. These units could never comply with the Municipal Building Bylaws, 1997, and revised bylaws of 2010, but could be held legal, according to old bylaws of 1976.

If the Punjab and Haryana High Court gives its nod, then these units could be allowed to operate after imposition of a fine.

The newly drafted proposal, which has been sent to the Local Bodies Department, will be deliberated upon by an SIT (special investigation team). The SIT comprised Deputy Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary Rahul Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat and Chief Administrator, Amritsar Development Authority, Sandeep Rishi.

A report will be prepared by the SIT which will be submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court bench on the next date of hearing.

The Federation of Hotel and Guest Houses Association has hailed the MC’s move and it hopes that it will get through in the court. “The issue relates to hundreds of families who depend on these businesses for quite some time. It will lend a helping hand at the same time in accommodating the heavy rush of tourists visiting the holy city daily,” he said.

Mayor Bakshi Ram Arora said it was the government’s invitation on which the MC had drafted the proposal and all legal aspects would be looked into.

Source: The Tribune

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