| Okram Ibobi Singh |
Imphal, June 22: Owners of the land where the Manipur government is planning to build a luxury hotel is likely to move court to stall acquisition.
The government’s plan is to develop the existing ground floor plus first floor Hotel Imphal at Kabo Leikai to a star hotel by either leasing it out to a private party for construction or on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
The government has not decided on the private party, but sources said a local businessman was on the chief minister’s mind for the lease or partnership.
For starters, the government constituted a five-member committee, headed by chief secretary D. S. Poonia, to assess the value of the assets of Hotel Imphal and staff strength for the purpose of leasing it out.
However, the officials at the hotel said they were not informed of the exact plan of the government.
The committee — comprising senior officials from the finance, revenue, public works and tourism departments as members — is also assigned to frame “the principle” on which the assets and management of the hotel is to be leased out to a private party or parties or on the PPP model and make the recommendations that would benefit both the parties.
Manipur has only one three-star hotel — Classic Hotel.
As the committee is working on the assignment, the government has already initiated steps to acquire the entire 1.5-acre residential area of Naga River Colony, next to the hotel.
The colony, with 30 houses on government record but 50 houses according to residents, has a population of 500.
After the first attempt by the government officials to assess properties of the notified area of the colony on June 6 failed following strong resistance from the land owners, the government carried it out on June 20 by deploying about 100 armed and unarmed police personnel.
The residents are opposed to the move because they feel that land of the poor is being acquired by the government for handing over to rich businessmen for a luxury hotel.
“Life is more important than a luxury hotel. We are not against development activities of the government. But taking away land owned by the poor for handing over to rich people for commercial purposes is anti-people and unacceptable,” a resident said.
Sources said the landowners are consulting legal experts to challenge the government move in court.
Last week, a church body, the All Manipur Christian Organisation, also opposed the government’s move to acquire land where three churches and a temple exist.