An inquiry done by the Directorate of Defence Estates (DE), Ministry of Defence and the Government of India, to look into the case of high-end resorts and hotels allegedly running illegally in the Landour Cantonment of Mussoorie, a highly sensitive defence area, has found the allegations to be “true”.
The inquiry, carried out by Shobha Gupta, director, Defence Estate, Central Command, had submitted its report in July 2016 after the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ordered an inquiry into these resorts. However, even after one year of the report’s submission to the MoD, the resorts and hotels continue to have a free run.The Sunday Guardian has accessed this report which has listed the properties that are running “illegally” in the cantonment area. Many properties are owned by hotelier Sanjay Narang, who, in his response to The Sunday Guardian, denied violating any laws.
Shobha Gupta, who inspected 19 properties in the area, had submitted a detailed report on it to the MoD, in which she made the following observations about the resorts and guesthouses running in the Landour cantonment area.
“1. Pine tree lodge—This is an old grant (sic) property, placed under the management of the DEO Meerut circle. The cantonment board has issued a notice to Shri Sanjay Narang (occupant) for commercial use of the property.
“2. Landour bake house—This is an old grant (sic) property and placed under the management of DEO Meerut circle. Bakery products are being sold. The said property also has 01 guest room on the first floor. The cantt board has issued notice under section 244 of Cantonment act 2006 for change of use of the property for commercial use.
“3. Bothwell bank—It is placed under the management of DEO Meerut circle. There are 04 guest rooms, 01 dining room, 01 sitting room and a kitchen in the property. Cantt board has issued notice dated 14.06.2016 under section 244 of the cantonment act, 2006 against the change of use of property for commercial purpose.
“4. Tabour cottage—Placed under the management of DEO , Meerut Circle. Measures 1.1640 acres. The Holder of Occupancy Right (HOR) is American Baptist foreign missionary society. Notice issued for commercial use of the property.
“5. Rokeby Manor—Placed under the management of DEO, Meerut Circle. Measures 1.5350 acres. The HOR is the executive board of Methodist Episcopal Church. It has 12 guest rooms and a restaurant. The cantt board has issued notice against the change of use of the property for commercial purposes.”
Shobha Gupta, in the report, further stated: “All the 05 properties mentioned above have apparently been purchased by a hotelier from HORs. Apart from the above properties being used commercially by this individual, the properties Deodar woods (Fairview), Ivy bank and dwelling house, Ivy Cottage (Domas Inn) and Prospect point mentioned in the complaint were also inspected. In addition Seaforth Lodge and Ivydene, the Firs cottage and Lodge, Wolf’s burn and Hazzlewood which are being used as guest houses are for which CEO and DEO have issued notices were also inspected by me.
“6. Prospect point—measuring 1.163 acre and placed under the management of DEO Meerut. The HOR is American Brethern Mission. However, the occupier is Peter Succoro Vaz. It has 05 guest houses and is being used as a home stay/guest house. DEO Meeurt circle has issued notice for commercial use of the property.
“7. Dahlia Bank—Measuring 1.672 acres, placed under the management of DEO Meerut circle. The HOR is RL Duggan…Matter regarding unauthorized construction /encroachment in Dahlia back has been under detailed reporting vide several letters. Notices have been issued against the unauthorized construction carried out in the premises by the cantonment board. The DEO Meerut circle has also issued final order for eviction of the unauthorized occupants. Cases filed by Sanjay Narang are pending in the various courts in respect of the property.
“8. Fair View (Deodar)—Management under DEO Meerut circle. HOR is the Christian and missionary alliance of Indian mission Akola Berar. Occupier is Inder Prakash. Change of purpose notice served. 6 room guest house was running. At present the entire building in under repair.
“9. Ivy bank and dwelling house—Management under DEO Meerut circle. Occupier Manohar Lal. 06 room guest house with restaurant is running in the cottage and servant’s quarter.
“10. Ivy cottage (Domas Inn)—Management under DEO Meerut circle. Occupier Tsring Choden. 06 room guest house with restaurant in running in the property.
“11. Seaforth lodge and Ivydene—Management under DEO Meerut circle. Occupier is Sujata Chauhan. 04 room guest house in being run in the lodge.
“12. The Firs cottage and lodge—Management under DEO Meerut circle. Occupier A.P mission of North India. 06 room guest house in being run in the premises.
“13. Wolf Burn’s—Management under DEO Meerut circle. Occupier E. Uniyal. 05 room guest house is being run in the cottage and servant’s quarters.
“14. Hazzlewood—Management under DEO Meerut circle. Occupier Pawan Gupta. 03 room guest house is being run in the premises.”
Sanjay Narang, in his response to The Sunday Guardian, stated that he was not aware of any inquiry by the Ministry of Defence.
“I am not aware of any inquiry by the MoD, however, all queries ever raised by the various authorities have always been responded to in writing and substantiated with documentation. I reiterate that I am not aware of any inquiry by the MoD as referred to by you. Once again I state that any inquiry put to me has been responded to in writing. If you wish, you are welcome to visit me in Landour and I can share the documents with you. Perhaps this would be in the best interest of a fair and honest and accurate reporting of the allegations made against me. You would also then be able to see for yourself that indeed there are large scale violations in Landour, but not by me, and it would also be clear that I have been selectively targeted by vested interest (groups) who choose to turn a blind eye to the actual violators.”
Section 244 of the Cantonments Act, 2006 which has allegedly been violated, talks about restricting the use of buildings in the cantonment area.
It says: “(1) No person shall, without the written permission of the Board or otherwise than in conformity with the conditions, if any, of such permission,- (a) use or permit to be used for human habitation any part of a building not originally erected or authorised to be used for that purpose or not used for that purpose before any alteration has been made therein by any work executed in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the by laws made thereunder; (b) change or allow the change of the use of any land or building; (c) convert or allow the conversion of one kind of tenement into another kind.
“(2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub- section (1) shall on conviction be punishable with a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the case of continuing contravention with an additional fine of rupees ten thousand for every day during which the contravention continues after the date it comes to the notice.”