GDA allows re-construction of hotels with expired lease in Gulmarg

90 percent hotels have not renewed lease from a decade

Srinagar, May 30: In what could turn out to be a huge lapse of government machinery, the land lease of nearly ninety percent of hotels and other huts at famous ski resort of Gulmarg has expired many years ago with Gulamarg Development Authority (GDA) acting as mute spectators which has not only costed government crores of rupees on account of revenue but also enabled the hotel owners to carry on their operations ‘illegally’. What has surprised many is that the GDA despite being aware of the lease expiry has allowed many hotels to not only undertake renovation but a complete over- haul. And in some case a complete re-construction. The issue can turn out to be a huge scam involving many top officers of GDA who have been allegedly allowing all this willingly.
A News agency has learnt from sources that even some hotels and other properties erected on the government land have been sold to other parties even if their lease has expired many years back. The sheer violation of rules has brought the meadow onto the brink of extinction with authorities allowing the selling and reconstruction of hotels selectively and without legal grounds. Sources said that the authorities have allowed a complete re-construction of a hotel despite its lease having expired nearly a decade ago. They said not only the reconstruction but the GDA authorities allowed the owner to allegedly sell off the abandoned property which was in contravention to the lease rules. According to rules, after the expiry of lease, the property cannot be sold without the government permission as that remains illegal till the lease is extended. In this particular case the lease has not been renewed or extended which means the structure can neither be sold nor re-constructed until the lease issue is resolved.
The Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority had a very surprising and shocking reply when the news agency wanted to know the details from him. The CEO, Mohamamd Haneef Balkhi said that his GDA had no domain to check the lease of the hotels and other structures. Regarding, the re- construction of some hotels, the CEO said that he has got proper permission from BOCA for re-construction and the expiry of lease was not such a huge issue to become impediment in the development of Gulmarg.
“We have nearly 90-95 percent of hotels in Gulmarg with expired lease. Do you mean we shall shut them all? The Gulmarg will cease to exist if we do that. Secondly, GDA is not concerned with the lease. We have many other things to do. We can’t do everything.” Balkhi said, adding that he had no knowledge whether any of the properties have been sold.
“We give permission to the original owner. We are not there to keep an eye who sells the property to whom. We have no business to do that,” said Balkhi when asked what if the property is sold to some outside the state businessman.
Meanwhile Balkhi’s claims were rubbished by Deputy Commissioner Baramulla who is chairman of BOCA in District Baramulla saying, No permission has been granted to any hotelier for re-construction or renovation. The Deputy Commissioner Dr. G.N Itoo said that GDA was responsible for lease agreements and the implementation of lease related laws.
“How can GDA be not responsible for the lease agreements. The land has been transferred to GDA and they are responsible for everything that comes within the GDA limits.” Itoo said, adding that no permission has been granted for re-construction to any hotel in the meadow by BOCA. Dr. Itoo also said he would be sending a high level team to Gulmarg to find out the facts. (RNA)