Srinagar: The CRPF is yet to vacate more than seven rooms in Hotel Centaur Lakeview in Srinagar with the hotel staff crying foul over the government claims of freeing government buildings from forces’ occupation.
IG CRPF KS Bandari had stated in April this year that the forces would have no reluctance in vacating the hotel premises if alternate space is provided to them by the state government.
Meanwhile, the hotel employees complain that the routine business of the hotel is affected due to the presence of forces. They say that since the onset of militancy in Kashmir, several rooms were occupied by the paramilitary troops and that no serious effort was ever made by successive regimes to shift the troopers to some other place.
It was learnt from reliable sources that there are at least seven rooms at present which continue to remain under the forces’ occupation. Per room, the rent paid by the CRPF is Rs 170 per day against the normal rate of Rs 5,500. “They (CRPF) pay the hotel Rs 1,200 as rent for seven rooms which otherwise should be Rs 38,500. The hotel bears the cost incurred on water and electricity charges and actually spends Rs 20,000 per day for the water and power usage of the CRPF men, ” one of the senior employees of the hotel, wishing not to be named, said.
The hotel employees said the presence of CRPF men is a major hurdle for business, with people generally showing reluctance in booking rooms in premises where troops are residing. “A tourist wants to experience “heaven on earth” and not the war-zone! The presence of troops gives one a feeling of staying in a dangerous place,” employees said.
They added that the presence of the CRPF was hurting the state exchequer as tourists were not willing to book rooms in the hotel. “Despite the low rate packages offered by the hotel, very few tourists book our rooms for their stay in the Valley. Even if some tourists do so through agents, when they get to know about the presence of troops, they ask for a refund and leave the hotel,” they said.
Interestingly, CM Mufti Sayeed had earlier assured the tourism industry on making evacuation of all hotels currently occupied by security forces possible in Srinagar city, while pitching for the revival of tourism in the state.