Despite claims of state government to improve tourism sector, state government has failed to preserve its old historical Centaur hotel as major part of it has been occupied by Centre Reserve Police force (CRPF).
Officials employed with Centaur Hotel on anonymity told a local news agency, KNS, “Tourists feel uncomfortable due to occupation of forces here and presence of CRPF was acting as a spoilsport for the state exchequer as tourists are not willing to book their accommodations in the hotel.” They said, “Despite the low rates packages offered by the hotel authorities, none of the tourists book their accommodations during their stay in valley. Even if some tourists book their accommodations through agents, they ask for refunding of their money and leave the hotel.”
Meanwhile Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar also had also written a letter to Commandant 61 Bn CRPF regarding the issue however no development took place till date. As per the letter to Commandant, 61 Bn, CRPF dtd 22/03/2013, SSP has asked the CRPF authorities to vacate 16 rooms of Centaur Lake view Hotel and Hotel Star Buchwara Dalgate which still are under possession of (CRPF) Bn deployed in the said locality.
Pertinently the rooms have been allotted to forces at a constant tariff of Rs 175 per room per day over the past more than two decades. “A sizable part of this small amount is still withheld.” Centaur hotel is raised with a five-star infrastructure and the current rental of the hotel is more than Rs 6500 for a double bedroom and Rs 5500 for a single bedroom per day.
“The hotel has lost revenue of Rs more than 32.4 crores on account of the CRPF occupation,” official in Centaur hotel said.
Another official told KNS that hotel was paying electricity dues worth 19 lakh per month and the hotel pays an amount of Rs 6 lakh for CRPF troops. “However, they pay only 6000 towards the hotel authorities. We are facing huge losses because of their forcible occupation in the hotel,” he said.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), last year had given clear cut directions to CRPF to relocate from the hotel. However, same remained under occupation of troops, which they have been occupying for years. MHA has asked the ‘security agencies’ to vacate hotels and guest houses in Srinagar in view of heavy tourist rush and dearth of accommodation for them.
Reportedly, several notices were earlier issued from Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police, Central Kashmir, to CRPF on the issue. “But nothing happened on grounds. They (CRPF) didn’t reply to the letters.”
Meanwhile, Inspector general, CRPF VS Yadaw told KNS, “We didn’t come to valley out of their own wish, however were called by state government, it is their (state government) responsibility to arrange accommodation for us,” he said.
When contacted Minster for tourism Gulam Ahmad Mir said, “The hotel is looked after by centre government I think it may have been given to security forces for the protection of hotel. But as far as state government is concerned it was the facility for us to provide quality accommodation for tourists. We appeal the centre government to outsource the hotel as soon as possible so that tourism in Kashmir could be further boosted,” he said.