Gir luxury hotel ordered to shut down in 2 days
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court on Monday refused to protect the Indian Hotels Company Ltd's luxury resort in the Gir National Park from the sealing intended by the local authorities over absence of NOC to run hotel in the area.
When the hotel management -the Taj group-moved the HC against the sealing notice, a bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice GB Shah said that people would "laugh at the judiciary that it cannot reach the mighty, if they interfere in this case". The judges said that there must not be any special treatment given to any hospitality unit as compared to small ones, which were sealed earlier. They have given two days' time to intimate guests to vacate the structure.
Local authorities slapped a notice to the hotel on Friday giving it a time till April 15 to vacate and close it down. This happened over the HC's directives to act against illegal encroachers. When the authorities sealed hotels and resorts run by the locals, one of such property owners complained that the officials did not act against luxurious hotels. Seven such hotels were named and the high court on April 1 asked the authorities to conduct a survey on legality of their operation and act if they do not furnish NOC.
In this case, the Centre gave land to the state government in 1971. This particular plot was leased out to Gujarat tourism and this hotel group got 20 year lease in 1994 and the hotel was constructed. The lease was renewed last year. However, the mandatory permission from the National Board of Wildlife was not obtained and hence the forest department did not issue NOC for operations. Though the lease was renewed, the tourism department requested the chief conservator of forest to run the hotel without NOC till the hotel management obtains permission from the Board.
The hotel management requested the HC to grant time so that it could seek permission and NOC from concerned authorities. But the HC was reluctant. The hotel management urged to grant some time because the entire hotel is full of guests and booked for next one and a half month. Its counsel said that many tourists including foreigners would not be able to see lions.
To this, the judges said, "It is unfortunate that lions cannot file petition against men. If their numbers are reduced, the lions would be happy."