March 6, 2021 4:50:43 am
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), citing “unauthorised construction”, has rejected five-star Le Meridien hotel’s application for renewal of its health and trade licences and directed it to suspend all trade activities within seven days, as per a show cause notice issued on March 1.
As per an NDMC letter dated January 20, “there exists unauthorised constructions in the premises for which health licence is sought to be renewed. NDMC has already passed a demolition order dated 18.02.2019 pertaining to the premises”.
It directed the hotel to stop all trade activities as per Section 333 of the NDMC Act, under which the chairperson can suspend the licence of any hotel, restaurant, theatre, etc if it is operating “without a licence or otherwise than in conformity with the terms of a licence granted in respect thereof”.
The health licence of the hotel, located at Windsor Place, expired on March 31, 2020. The NDMC had suspended the renewal process in July last year because of the pandemic, and had directed businesses to apply for the same online. The licence of CJ International Limited, which runs the hotel, was rejected.
“However, fu/t. CJ international (Le-Meridian) has not complied with directions given in the aforesaid letter and, accordingly, showcause notice for closure of trade activities… has been issued to stop/close trade within seven days,” stated the letter by NDMC to the hotel on March 1.
4.29 acres of land was leased to NDMC by the central government for construction of a hotel for the Asian Games in 1982. In response to an advertisement put out by NDMC, 17 parties gave their offers. As a result of general discussion, only 14 parties furnished their offers and the offer of Pure Drinks (New Delhi) Ltd, being the highest, was accepted. Pure Drinks floated a public limited company, CJ International Limited.
Since 2000, the hotel and NDMC have been engaged in license fee disputes, with the issue also reaching the Delhi High Court. In 2017, NDMC had cancelled the licence deed of CJ International Hotels Limited due to non-payment of outstanding dues of Rs 518.80 crore. This was challenged in court by the hotel and the matter is pending.
On Friday, an official from CJ International Hotels Limited said: “We have filed a petition with the High Court, and the hearing is on Tuesday. We have paid licence fees this year despite the pandemic, when the hospitality business was hurt the hardest.”
On allegations of “unauthorised construction”, the official claimed no additional construction has been carried out since the hotel came up.
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