Authorities in Bodh Gaya, Bihar’s Buddhist temple town, have served notices to 26 foreign Buddhist monasteries for allegedly violating building laws and indulging in commercial activities without paying sales tax and GST and have directed them to reply within a fortnight, an official said on Thursday.
Sushil Kumar, in-charge of the Bodh Gaya Nagar Panchayat, said the notices asked the foreign monasteries to explain whether they were running commercial activities and have registered for sales tax and GST. They have also been asked for the details of the number of rooms with air-conditioning and other facilities.
“We will initiate action against them as per the Municipal Act if they failed to reply,” he said.
Bodh Gaya Nagar Panchayat, an urban civic body comparable to a municipality, had last year served notices to 55 foreign Buddhist monasteries for allegedly violating building laws and indulging in commercial activities.
The notices were served following a petition by the Bodh Gaya Hoteliers’ Association and the Bodh Gaya Mukhiya Sangh in the Patna High Court against “violation of building rules and conversion of monasteries into guest houses and hotels”. Nearly half of them replied to the notice.
Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya over 2,550 years ago and every year thousands of pilgrims and tourists from India and abroad visit the place.
Earlier the district administration had initiated a separate inquiry into the violation of building norms by any monastery and structure that may have illegally come up on the land distributed to the Dalits and the homeless by the Bihar government in the 1980s.