Illegal construction of hotels on full swing in walled city

Illegal construction of hotels on full swing in walled city

Charanjit Singh Teja

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20

After a stay by the Supreme Court on action against illegal hotels around Golden Temple in August, the illegal construction of hotels and commercial buildings in the walled city is on peak.

Construction of around 50 hotel buildings in the city has been going on in full swing, in defiance of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders. Ironically, despite the HC ban on construction, around 450 hotels have been constructed in the city during the past seven years.

A large number of hotels got functional while several are about to complete. The MC did not make any effort during the last four months to stop the illegal construction.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed the operation of illegal hotels under the Amritsar Walled City Act 2016 and ordered the DC to disconnect water and power supply of hotels on July 22. The MC disconnected around 20 water connections. Later, the hoteliers moved the Supreme Court and got a stay.

After an amendment to the Walled City Act 2019, the MC invited applications for regularisation of buildings. The MC had received 352 applications for regularisation. There is no further development in the regularisation process.

Sarbajit Singh Verka, petitioner in the case, said: “We will bring the fresh constructions to the notice of the court during the next hearing. The court has already told the MC that these amendments don’t have any connection with the illegal buildings. These buildings have been constructed in violation of the court orders issued on July 20, 2012. We will also demand action against officials concerned, who are allowing the violations.”

Younis Kumar, Deputy Mayor-cum-Chairman of Municipal Town Planning Committee, said: “The issue of illegal constructions in the walled city is in my notice. We will take action in the next days. Moreover, officials have planned a proposal for the regularisation of illegal buildings. A proposal will be sent to the government for amendments to the Act.”

Timeline

  • 2010: Plea filed against 105 illegal hotels around the Golden Temple
  • 2012: The Punjab and Haryana High Court directed that no building plan should to be sanctioned till further orders
  • 2014: A three-member SIT formed, which finds 125 illegal hotels built after 2012
  • 2016: Govt enacts the Amritsar Walled City (Recognition of Usage) Act and the MC demands applications to regularise illegal hotels. The MC receives 216 applications
  • 2017: It is found that no hotel fulfills building bylaws
  • 2017: The Local Bodies Department dismisses a senior town planner, demotes three ATPs and imposes 50% pension cut on seven building branch officials for “overlooking” violations
  • 2017: The govt amends the Act and offers one-time settlement
  • 2018: On court directions, the MC initiates a drive to seal the illegal hotels, but owners reopen these
  • 2019: The government again seeks applications for one-time settlement. Owners of 352 illegal hotels submit applications

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