| The construction site at Sarumotoria where the five-star hotel in being built. Telegraph picture |
Jan. 18: Public opposition to the construction of a five-star hotel at Sarumotoria here is likely to gain strength as the retired college teacher leading the protests today said he would garner more support against the cutting of hills for the project.
Lakhi Kanta Medhi, who has been opposing the project since Maxim Infrastructure and Real Estate Private Limited started it in 2008, complained that the firm was cutting the hills without government permission.
“The state government has been saying it will not allow any hills in the city to be cut for construction. So how can they cut the hill right in front of the state secretariat for construction of the hotel? I had raised the issue with the state government and Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), following which the authority had stopped the construction in September last year. It has, however, started again,” Medhi said today.
Demanding a proper investigation into the matter, he said, “As the government is not carrying out an investigation on whether the environment clearance guidelines are being properly followed or not, I have decided to seek more public support and launch a strong protest soon.”
Maxim Infrastructure and Real Estate Private Limited managing director Pankaj Jhunjunwala, however, rubbished the complaints and said their firm was adhering to the environment clearance guidelines. “We excavated a part of the hill as Guwahati lies in a seismically active zone.”
Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri told The Telegraph that an inspection carried out by the administration found that the firm had cut the hill without permission. “Following public complaints, the state government had sought a report from me and after inspecting records we found that the hill land was cut in 2009. We have already sent the report to the government,” he said.
“Neither the GMDA nor the firm has been able to show me papers permitting the cutting of hills. If they have the permission, why are they not showing me the papers? They have cut the hills and are already carrying on the construction. On Wednesday, I received a letter from GMDA saying the notice it had served to the firm in September last year, asking it to stop construction, had not been revoked yet. This means the firm cannot continue the construction.”
In its notice in September, GMDA had asked the firm to stop construction immediately following public complaints about lack of adherence to public safety norms, blocking of drains and cutting of hills.
Maxim is constructing the Rs 200-crore hotel as part of a joint venture with Marriott group. The hotel is expected to be operational by the middle of next year.