The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered demolition of illegal constructions at several hotels and resorts in the picturesque Himachal Pradesh town of Kasauli, saying the life of people cannot be endangered for making money. The apex court observed that the illegal constructions had put the entire city in danger, causing landslides, and ordered the demolition of such constructions.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also observed that some hotels and resorts were supposed to construct only two-storeyed buildings but six-storeyed ones existed there. “You just demolish it (unauthorised constructions). What is going on? You are admitting that you were supposed to make only two-storeyed building. There was landslide in your premises and you did nothing. You are putting the life of people to danger. For what? Money,” the bench observed while hearing the plea filed by one of the hotels.
Owners of several hotels, resorts and guest houses in Kasauli had approached the apex court challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to demolish or close down several such establishments which were extended illegally without approvals. During the hearing, an advocate, representing some of the hotels, admitted the existence of unauthorised constructions.
“You demolish it. You are admitting that there are unauthorised constructions,” the bench observed and directed the authorities concerned to demolish it. When one of the counsel referred to an apex court order in a matter related to Manali in Himachal Pradesh, the bench said, “either you demolish it (unauthorised constructions) or we will ask the authorities to demolish it. It is your choice. No instructions are needed. Let the authorities demolish it”.
Advocate Sumeer Sodhi, appearing for some of the hotel owners, raised some factual issues regarding the NGT order but the bench reasserted that the unauthorised constructions would have to be demolished. However, the counsel for one of the hotels said as per the NGT order, there were allegation of illegal construction on one of the floors, which was supposed to be the parking area, and they would demolish it. He said the hotel owner had applied for consent to operate with the requisite authorities in August last year itself.
The apex court said the authorities would consider their application for consent within three weeks after the hotel’s owner demolishes the illegal construction on their own. The top court had earlier granted stay on the NGT order with respect to some of the hotels and resorts in Kasauli subject to the condition that they would not use the alleged unauthorised constructions.
The NGT, in its order, had directed demolition of temporary structures of several hotels including Bird’s View Resort, Hotel Pine View, Narayani Guest House, Hotel Neelgiri, Hotel Divshikha and AAA Guest House.
It had also imposed hefty fines on many of them for causing irretrievable damage to the ecology, polluting the environment and raising unauthorised constructions. The NGT order had come on a plea by an NGO, Society for Preservation of Kasauli and its Environs (SPOKE).