The proposed disinvestment of state-run prime hotels and changes in Section 118 of HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act to promote eco-tourism at Kangra tea gardens is set to rock politics in Himachal with opposition already up in arms against such amendments.
The state government, though, has denied such plans of disinvestment of hotels or amendments in Section 118 to allow tourism-related activities in tea gardens. But the inclusion of these points in the brochure for the upcoming Global Investors Meet in the state will give tough times to the BJP government in defending it in the ongoing Monsoon session of the state assembly.
Congress party had already raked up the issue of selling of prime properties of the state in the name of investors meet before the state of Monsoon session and vowed to prevent the government from selling the properties to outsiders.
“We have raised the issue of Himachal on sale by the present BJP government and we will question the government in the state assembly,” Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri said.
He alleged that the government is being taken for a ride by some senior government officials on Section 118 with the connivance of some politicians who have vested interests in doing so.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, denied the allegations and state party vice president Ganesh Dutt said the government isn’t making any amendments in the Act.
“Congress leaders are making unnecessary hue and cry over the issue as the party had already made it clear that no amendments would be made in the Act neither such issues are taken up for considerations by the BJP government,” Dutt added.
Meanwhile, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India president, Sanjay Sood welcomed the proposal of the state government for disinvestment of state-run hotels that are running in losses.
“The government’s move would bring professionalism in the Tourism department run hotels in Himachal Pradesh but the move might have affected employment opportunities to the people of the state,” Sood said.
Sood further stated that the hotels should be given for operations to competent or eligible investors, otherwise, it would create many more problems for these prime properties.
He even welcomed the proposed move of making amendments in Section 118 to allow non-agriculturalists Himachalis to buy land in the state and added the move would provide equal playing grounds for all citizens of the state.
Kangra Small Tea Growers Association, too, welcomed the proposed move to allow construction of resorts or use of tea gardens for tourism activities but with some riders, though, they don’t want private players or outsiders to have any role in the entire move.
“The permission to construct resorts or homestays at tea garden would benefit the Kangra tea industry which is running into losses owing to various reasons.
Small tea growers would definitely benefit from the decision as they don’t have any other avenues to generate income and continue the avocation,” Abhimanyu Katoch, a member of Kangra Small Tea Growers Association said.
He added the tea growers should be given permission to run tourism-related activities but in a limited area on the tea gardens as it would bring in the limelight to the tea industry and would also help them in selling their produce at better prices.