Gulmarg land auction will follow Taj Man Singh Road auction process (IANS Exclusive)

Highly placed official sources told IANS on Wednesday that the allotment of prime land at Kashmir’s picturesque ski resort, Gulmarg will now be made on the lines the Taj Hotel auction was carried out on the Man Singh Road in the national capital city.

“The government headed by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi believes in providing a level playing field to everybody without any fear or favour.

“The leases of prime land in Gulmarg in J&K have in almost all cases expired. There are multiple incidents of sub-letting by the original lessees. This has created a legal problem for the present occupiers.

“Once a lawful lessee parts with the possession of the leased land, the land reverts back to the owner (which is state in this case).

“In the auction process of Taj Hotel at Man Singh Road in Delhi nobody, including the Tatas were favoured in any way.

“To ensure that the present occupiers are not deprived of any lawful right, the bidding process would be transparent and open to public scrutiny,” top sources said.

Same sources said, “Leases of all the hotels at Gulmarg with one exception have otherwise also expired. Continuing the present position would be illegal and also unfair to even the present hotel owners.

“Hospitality industry has to follow a protocol. Unlawful operations entail legal implications for both the lessor (J&K government) and the lessee, the present occupiers”.

After the disclosure that the future leases in Gulmarg will strictly be carried out as was the auction of Taj Hotel on Man Singh Road by Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) requires an understanding of how the Man Singh Road auction was unique from other auction processes.

“In Man Singh Road auction, revenue was not calculated primarily on the cost of the land that went under the hammer. The revenue generated as room rent by the Hotel was also calculated and the successful bidder had to share a portion of room revenue also with the licensor,” sources revealed.

Man Singh Road auction was floated by DMC vide Document No: NDMC/1-ManSinghRoad/18-19/ET/01 dated April 25, 2018.

In the tender document, Gross revenue was defined as, “Gross Revenue of the Property for any Financial Year shall mean the total amount of revenue and receipts of every kind (from both cash and credit transactions) derived by the Licencee from the operation of the Property and its facilities, as certified by the statutory auditors of the Licencee, including receipts from room occupancy charges, telephone, telefax and telex charges, laundry, sale of food, beverages, liquor, recreational amenities (outdoor pool, health club, spa, sauna, fitness facility, etc.), outdoor catering, receipts from vending machines; parking, commercial or other spaces on account of rent and / or Licence fee from the sub-Licencees of every description and kind, and the recovery in respect of any other service or facility provided by the Licencee to the users / guests of the said Property, which are availed/ realized by the Licencee from an outside party(ies) at a consideration but shall exclude and be arrived at after deducting the following:-

A. All statutory applicable indirect taxes such as luxury tax, sales tax, entertainment tax, expenditure tax, service tax, goods & services tax and the like by whatever name called now or in future, which the Licencee has agreed to pay or is bound to pay;

B. revenue on sale of assets of capital nature owned by the Licencee and interest income from investments made.

As to the status of the existing hotel brand owner, the document said, “Hotel Brand Owner may also participate in the Bidding Process as an independent Bidder, either as a ‘standalone entity’ or as a ‘Bidder participating together with 1 (one) Subsidiary’ provided however, that such Hotel Brand Owner meets the minimum eligibility criteria specified in the Tender Document for a Bidder bidding either as a ‘standalone entity’ or as a ‘Bidder participating together with 1 (one) Subsidiary’, as the case may be.”

Once the same conditions are applied to Gulmarg land/property auction, the process will not displace thousands of employees earning their livelihood from various hotels and other business establishments in the ski resort, but will also leave little room for the present beneficiaries to cry foul, the same sources added.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Jammu today, J&K Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha said the Land Grants Rules 2022 have brought the UT at par with the rest of the country.

“I want to assure you that no poor man allotted land would lose his piece of land when these rules are implemented. It is the few big businessmen who have occupied huge pieces of land illegally who are crying.

“They definitely will lose their monopoly on government lands,” the Lt. Governor said.

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