Centaur deal intact: HCI
RTI Plea Exposes JK Govt’s ‘Dilly-Dallying Tactics’
Srinagar, Nov 18: While the state government Friday said it is negotiating with Civil Aviation Ministry to buy Centaur Lake View Hotel at Dal Lake here, the Air India-owned Hotel Corporation of India (HCI) has revealed that it has not scrapped contract with New Delhi-based DB Realty to take over the hotel.
The details furnished by HCI reveal that no order has been passed scrapping the deal between it and DB Reality over offering Centaur under management contract to the latter.
“As per the direction of the (Civil Aviation) Ministry the management (not propriety) of the unit was to be taken over by the state government and accordingly the matter is pending with it,” Air India has responded to an RTI application filed by former General Secretary Centaur Hotel Employees' Union, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Bhat. The response from the Air India has come through a letter (No. PIO/AID/240 (Inf)/F176, Dated November 10, 2011).
The communication has put a question mark on the oft repeated assertion of the state government that it would not let the viable business establishment slip out of its hands.
Expressing surprise over the revelations by HCI, Minister for Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora, said a committee with members from state government and union civil aviation ministry has been set up to negotiate on Centaur take-over by the state government. “We will buy the hotel (but) it depends on what kind of offer do we get. Negotiations are on,” said the Minister. “They (HCI) should have taken state government into confidence. The hotel has been built on state land,” he said.
Built in 1982, the hotel located adjacent to SK International Convention Centre has been one of the major attractions for local and foreign tourists visiting the Valley. Besides, the official delegates received by the state government from different states and abroad throughout the year usually prefer to put up in the hotel.
The Centaur has a capacity of 292 rooms and land for its construction was leased out to Air India’s subsidiary, Hotel Corporation of India, for 90 years. There are more than 350 employees working in the hotel, most of them locals.
“It is a profitable establishment and fetches revenue of more than Rs three crores annually. People of Kashmir will not like some outside company eating into their rights,” the hotel union members said.
Acting on a Public Interest Litigation, in February this year the state High Court directed Government of India to withhold leasing out of the Centaur to any outside company.
The deal between the DB Reality owned by Shahid Balwa and HCI had come under scanner after Balwa had come under the 2G scam net and was subsequently arrested. Following the expose, the state carrier, AI, had reportedly stated that it had scrapped the deal.
“Government has let us down. The future of hundreds of employees working in the hotel is in dark,” said Bhat.
While in April the government had claimed that it was working on a plan to take over the hotel and even promote water sports around the Centaur, sources said there is no progress on the matter.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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