KOCHI: The Kochi Corporation has ordered the closure of Emerald Hotel in the city, which has been booked for providing accommodation to officials and athletes participating in the 35th National Games.
With this, the fate of about 200 athletes, as far as their accommodation is concerned, hangs in the balance, as the hotel is required to evacuate them within the next three days in order to comply with the order.
‘Express’ had warned of such a situation in its story on January 31, which exposed the bizarre decision by Mayor Tony Chammany to book rooms in Emerald Hotel, despite being aware of the fact the the hotel had been constructed illegally. The Games’ sub-committee for reception and accommodation, led by Chammany, booked 144 rooms in the hotel, paying Rs 18.5 lakh, only days after the Corporation Steering Committee declared it as unauthorised.
Following the news report, AIYF activists had gheraoed Corporation secretary V R Raju on Wednesday and laid siege to the secretary’s office for about an hour. The activists continued their protest on Thursday also. The secretary issued the closure order on Thursday afternoon, a copy of which is available with ‘Express’.
It is learnt that top officials in the civic administration have started calling high-level bureaucrats to the civic body’s office to enquire how the order got leaked to ‘Express’.
“The closure order was issued after owners of Emerald hotel failed to produce the environmental clearance certificate from the Kerala State Pollution Control Board. The hotel has been constructed illegally, and the Corporation will go ahead with the closure procedures. The hotel was booked for the Games as it was near the venue and its tariff was acceptable. Currently, we are looking for a solution with regard to the accommodation. However, the sportspersons will not be affected,” said Chammany.
The official spokesperson of Emerald Hotel said they would approach the court against the Corporation’s order. “We are yet to receive any notice. It is impossible to evacuate the guests, including athletes of the National Games. We will approach the court as and when we get the order,” said the spokesperson, who did not want to be named.