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Land lease expiry: Govt begins taking over 69 hotels in Gulmarg

'Hotels would continue to function, hoteliers can take bookings for winter months' CEO Gulmarg

Post by on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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'Hotels would continue to function, hoteliers can take bookings for winter months'  CEO Gulmarg

Srinagar, Dec 08:Acting on the directions of the high court, the Jammu and Kashmir government has initiated the process of taking over at least 69 hotels at ski resort Gulmarg the land lease agreements of which had expired in 2018.

The administration has however asked the hoteliers to take the bookings and operate the properties as ‘caretakers’.

The land lease agreements of almost all the hotels with the government have expired. Some of the hoteliers have allegedly possessed hundreds of kanals of land without any allotment.

In October this year, J&K High Court directed the government to take immediate steps for retrieval of public land which is under the unauthorized occupation and encroachment in Gulmarg.

While hearing a Public Interest litigation on Gulmarg, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta said hoteliers which were under expired leases had no right to continue occupying the hotels.

“Let an action taken report with regard to properties which continue to be in unauthorised occupation which are under the control of the Department of Tourism be placed before us positively before the next date of hearing,” the court said.

The hoteliers said in the past two years they consistently approached the administration for the extension of the lease agreement, “but to no avail”.

Secretary General JK Hoteliers Club Tariq Rashid Ghani said the administration has sent notifications to at least 69 hoteliers mentioning that their lease agreement has ended and they would be acting as only "caretakers".

"We have been asked to be caretakers of our own hotels. This is shocking. For the past two years, we have been literally begging the government to extend our lease agreement. They didn't pay any heed to our requests," Ghani said.

J&K Hoteliers Club said the land lease agreement between the government and hotel was made in 1978.

The lease was granted for 40 years and later it was to be extended, the hoteliers said.

Gulmarg is a popular skiing resort and most of the hotels are occupied during winter months both with domestic and foreigners travelers. 

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) Inam-ul- Haq Siddiqui said they are following the court orders and accordingly retrieving the "illegally occupied" land by some hoteliers.

"The issue of extending land lease agreement for hotels is pending with the government," Siddiqui said.

CEO Gulmarg however said the hotels would continue to function and no hotelier has been asked to stop taking bookings for the winter season.

"Hotels will continue to function normally," he said.

As per the law, the land lease can be extended by up to 40 years and is extendable up to 10 years and 50 years respectively after all the parameters of the agreement are inspected.

Despite several phone calls, District Commissioner Baramulla G N Itoo who is heading the evacuation process didn't respond to talk about the matter.


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