Court orders closure of 55 hotels in Dharamshala

View of McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh.

View of McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh. Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

ON THE WEB, 17 December 2017

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has ordered the Dharamshala administration to shut down 55 hotels and establishments running illegally in Dharamshala and the surrounding areas of McLeod Ganj and Naddi, and directed authorities to disconnect electricity and water supplies to the hotels.

Most of the affected hotels are in McLeod Ganj, on Jogiwara, Temple, and Bhagsu roads.

About 1,000 people of the affected hotels may lose their jobs as a result of the closures.

On Saturday, the district administration of Kangra cut water and power connections of the 55 illegal hotels.

Prominent hotels affected in McLeod Ganj are: Ashoka Guest House, Hunted Hill House, Moon Walk Residency, Norbu House, Hotel President Inn, Black Magic Hotel, Zambala House, and Hotel Asian Plaza.

A public interest litigation (PIL) petition dealing with the issue of degradation of environment in Dharamshala had been filed with the Court.

The Court then directed the Regional Officer, Pollution Control Board (PCB), to inspect the hotels of this area and file his report before the court.

The report stated that a team had inspected 88 hotels in the area, and that most of them were running without permission from the Tourism Department or any consent to operate in terms of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

The division bench, comprised of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel, then passed the order to shut down the hotels.

The 55 hotels are: Hotel Back Packers Inn, Ashoka Guest House, Hunted Hill House, Sharma Cottage, Tokyo House, Hotel Friend House, Hotel Golden Wings, Hotel Holiday Hill, Moon Walk Residency, Hotel Ganga House, Hotel Imperial Nine, Hotel President Inn, Holiday Villa Redline 2, Villa Paradiso, Snow Height Apartments, Silver Tree, Bella Heights, Deodar Villa, Hotel Royal India, Norbu House, Hotel Blue Moon, Hotel Blue Inn, Pause Dwelling House, Varuni House, Black Magic Hotel, D-Scausa, Laxmi Holiday Inn, Hotel Staywell, Lord Krishna Residency, Hotel Nine Chimes, Grand Hill Hotel and Restaurant, Hotel Kumar Residency, Hotel Sapphire and Restaurant, Hotel Vikrant, Hotel Snow Peak, Hotel Greenview, Hotel Hill Heaven, Hotel Sahiba, The Destination Hotel, Zambala House, Hotel Kailash Residency, Hotel Sandhyana House, Hotel The Oak Valley, Hotel Sahil Plaza, Hotel Paradise, Green Glory Hill, Hotel Jungle Hut, Hotel Asian Plaza, Green View Guest house, Hill Town, Pink House, Guru Kirpa, and Victoria House.

In 2016 the Himachal government had passed the Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning (Amendment Bill) 2016 to approve irregular structures on “as is where is” basis. The government decided to forego the existing norms and provide for regularisation of buildings on nominal charges which were raised without government sanctions.

After this policy was announced, many hotel owners rushed to add floors to their existing structures to take advantage of it.

Following the hotel closures, a section of hoteliers demanded action against the officials of the Municipal Corporation, Town and Country Planning, Power, and Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) officials who allowed a large number of illegal hotels to come up and flourish in violation of rules.

Hotel owners complained that they had to cancel bookings of tourists visiting for Christmas holidays.

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