Ensure non-conversion of hotels into guesthouses: HC to Tourism dept

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed state’s Tourism Department to ensure there is no conversion of existing hotels into guesthouses in the Valley.
The direction was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar on a complaint filed by some inhabitants of Srinagar through one Bashir Sadiq Khan of Hyderpora here.
In the compliant, the people have alleged that a Legal Advisor of J&K State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has been advising hoteliers to replace their signboards by one showing their hotels as guesthouses to negate directions of the court regarding installation of Sewerage Treatment Plants and pollution norms. It is further stated that the process has begun throughout Srinagar city and other parts of the Valley.
“Assistant Director Registration of Tourism Department, on huge monetary considerations, is contemplating registration for their so-called fake conversions. This has been done to negate and overreach the various directions of the High Court issued from time to time,” they said in the application submitted to the Chief Justice.
After perusal of the application, the division bench issued a notice to state’s Tourism Department, asking it to ensure that no such conversion is permitted.
In this regard, the bench also restrained the Assistant Director (Registration), Tourism Department from passing any order granting conversion to the already existing hotels by treating them as guesthouses.
“A specific notice is issued to the Legal Advisor (SPCB) as to why action be not taken for tendering advise to circumvent the process of law as well as the orders of this court,” the bench said.
The bench also directed the Legal Advisor and the incumbent Assistant Director (Registration) of the Tourism Department to file the list of their immovable and movable assets before the court on the next of hearing in a Public Interest Litigation on Gulmarg.
As per SPCB norms, hotels in category A (having 20 or more rooms) are required to have an individual STP in case common STP facility is not available. In Srinagar, LAWDA informed the court recently that it has started charging fee from hoteliers for providing common STP.
The hotels having less than 20 rooms have to pay Rs 1500 per month during season and Rs 1000 per month during the off season.
Likewise, the hotels having room capacity of 20 to 39 have to pay Rs 2000 per month during the season and Rs 1000 per month during the off season.
Similarly, the hotels which have the capacity of more than 40 rooms have to pay Rs 3000 per month during the season and Rs1500 per month during the off season.