Tribune News Service
Amritsar, June 3
Though the state ministry of tourism and cultural affairs has in the past exhorted to revive the defunct state owned tourist properties, it has sold off some of its properties located at prime spots in the city years ago.
In 2007, the state government sold off Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC)-run three-star Amritsar International Hotel to an NRI family for Rs 56 crore. The 55-room hotel was opened in the late 1980s. It had two restaurants, lift, swimming pool and other facilities to draw tourists. Situated on the opposite side of the ISBT near Maha Singh Gate that is less than one km from Golden Temple, it is spread on two acres of land. The hotel was never renovated, recall visitors. The hotel was sold off under the disinvestment policy initiated in 2003 according to which the loss making units were disinvested. Following this, the PTDC came into being and a new body — Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) — was constituted.
Ironically, the number of private hotels has increased sharply over the years. Availability of rooms in all categories in the hospitality sector was not more than 2,600 about 10 years back, which has almost doubled now.
Capt (Retd) Chanan Singh Sidhu, a tenant at one of the 15 shops being run in the arcade of the hotel, says the building has been lying closed since it was sold. The unattended building is now infested with snakes and other reptiles which occasionally surface and cause panic among customers.
He said the value of the property was over Rs 125 crore. “Even a private concern had offered Rs 135 crore to its current owner couple of years ago, which they refused,” he says.
Another loss to the city was dismantling of the Youth Hostel on the GT Road which has now been converted into International Bus Terminal. Since then, the city never got a youth hostel where youngsters from the rest of the country were given rooms at affordable rates.
Similarly, the state government had handed over the tourist facility centre at the ICP – Aman Umeed Bhawan – formerly known as Neem Chameli, and 10 acres of land around it to the Union government, after the latter requested for the same.
In return, the Ministry of Home Affairs had given 12.5 acres of land across the road to the state government a few years ago to raise a state-of-the-art Tourist Reception Center which would house rooms, children’s park, waiting lounge and other amenities. The process to start the project is underway.
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