In a bid to generate revenue from its assets, the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to go for outsourcing of Hari Niwas complex at Gupkar Road here for hospitality operations.
According to sources, the Hospitality & Protocol Department is set to initiate the process for handing over operations, maintenance and supervision of the complex, formerly the official residence of State's Chief Minister, to private players.
"On the directions of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, the department has finalized the terms and conditions for outsourcing the complex for a period of 4-5 years," they said, adding that the bidding process would start soon.
As already reported by this newspaper, Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed decided against shifting his official residence to HariNiwas complex and instead uses his 'Fairview' bungalow for the purpose.
It has also been learnt that the bidding process would be open only to JK's permanent residents.
"Besides, the government would have the authority to take back possession of the complex from a private party on short notice," sources disclosed.
Top officials in Chief Minister's Secretariat disclosed to Greater Kashmir that the proposal is aimed to promote heritage and high-end tourism in the State.
"This move would fetch crores of rupees to the State exchequer apart from cutting down lakhs of rupees spent over operations and maintenance of the complex," they added.
The HariNiwas complex is spread over 200 kanals of land, overlooking the famous Dal Lake. It has served as headquarters of intelligence wing of J&K Police. The palace has 66 seven-star rooms and seven VVIP suites.
Former Chief Minister GhulamNabi Azad renovated the structure but stayed there for a short period before stepping down in 2008.
According to noted historian M Y Taing, the palace was built by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1925 on his return from Europe.