JAIPUR: In compliance with the verdict of a special CBI court in Jodhpur, the Udaipur administration has taken over control of Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel which was being run by Lalit Suri group’s Bharat Hotels Ltd since its sale by the NDA government in 2002.
The District Collector of Udaipur initiated the process of listing the entire inventories/movable and immovable properties of the famous heritage property.
The district authorities took possession of the luxury hotel from Bharat Hotels Ltd and have even put up a state government board outside the luxury hotel. Earlier, on Thursday, the Jodhpur CBI court had directed the district administration to take over the hotel and file a report within three days.
The special CBI court had ordered the takeover after it found that the hotel, once a property of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), was fraudulently disinvested in 2004 by the NDA government. The court ordered that the property should be attached and reverted back to the public sector unit ITDC, which should run it. The district administration of Udaipur has appointed a Receiver and has informed the Union government about the development.
“Four teams two each from the UMC and UIT are engaged in the property listing task. Each team has on average four members each who would do intense and detailed listings of all the movable and immovable properties of the Hotel. It may take some three to five days for us to complete the work” said Shailesh Surana, the receiver delegate and ACEO, Zila Parishad of Udaipur.
In addition, the Udaipur DM, Chetan Deora said a detailed report on the assets would be submitted to the CBI court in the coming days. As per the court’s direction on running the hotel by the government, the collector said that a letter has been sent to the Central Ministry of Tourism as well as the Indian Tourism Development Corporation for taking over the responsibility of the hotel.
The special CBI judge, PK Sharma, had ordered that the hotel be handed over to the state government. Earlier run by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation, the Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel was sold to the Bharat Hotels Limited, which now runs the Lalit Group of hotels, in 2002. The Laxmi Vilas Hotel was valued at over Rs 252 crores but was sold for a mere Rs 7.5 crores to the private group.
In 2002, the Vajpayee government's disinvestment ministry, led by Arun Shourie, had sold the Laxmi Vilas Palace to Bharat Hotels Ltd for a ridiculously low price which the CBI court’s order has found to have caused a loss of Rs 244 crore to the exchequer.
As a result, the CBI court has quashed the disinvestment and ordered an FIR to be registered against the then Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie, former Disinvestment Secretary, Pradeep Baijal and three others including Jyotsana Suri, the director of Bharat Hotels Ltd. A former royal property, Laxmi Vilas is a five-star hotel on the banks of the Fateh Sagar lake and is now called the Lalit Laxmi Vilas palace.