In a remarkable move by Himachal Pradesh High Court, 48 illegal properties in Kullu, Manali and nearby hamlets like Kasol and Tosh and 75 in Manikaran Valley, will be locked down starting from 26th June, 2018, Tuesday.
There are 100s of illegal hotels in the region. Officials maintain the total number of hotels in the district is close to 2,000, all of which need to be inspected, with about 1,500 in Manali alone. Of these, only 638 are registered with the tourism and excise departments.
In addition to locking down the illegal hotels, and having their water and electricity connections ceased, the HC has also ordered demolition of unauthorised portions of 92 hotels in Manali that it had identified as illegal.
Adding to the woes of the valley, section 144 has been implemented for an indefinite period, starting from 25th June, 2018, Monday. Due to the violent incident that took place on 1st May, 2017, an angry hotelier allegedly shot Assistant Town Planner Shail Bala after the demolition drive in Kasol held around that time. To ensure no such violence happens again, section 144 has been implemented.
The Deputy Commissioner has asked the people to deposit their licensed weapons to nearby police stations within three days. He said no person other than security personnel and the police executing their duty would be allowed to carry weapon. This is to ensure the safety of field officers following the sealing of illegal properties in the area.
If you are travelling to any of these places in the near future, please check and double check your hotel bookings and if possible, avoid travelling to these areas for some while.
We, the tourists, are partly to blame for this lockdown. We need to travel, but responsibly because we might not be here tomorrow, but we must leave a healthy and thriving planet for our future generations.