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Hotel owners ask Joshimath disaster-hit people to vacate rooms

IANS | March 30, 2023 10:30 AM

JOSHIMATH: People, who were shifted to hotels by the administration after cracks developed in houses due to land subsidence in Joshimath of Uttarakhand's Chamoli district, have now been asked by hotel owners to vacate their hotel rooms by March 31.

The "ultimatum" by hotel owners has been issued in view of the forthcoming Yatra season for Chardham pilgrimage in the state.

The administration, however, has said that it has written to the government for extending the "deadline" for keeping the affected people in hotels. To which, the government is yet to respond.

In the first week of January, people were displaced in hotels, dharamshalas and rented houses after the land submergence increased in Joshimath. In hotels, the government is paying a rent of Rs 950 for a room. Those who are living in rented houses are being given five thousand rupees. There are 694 members of 181 families staying in various hotels, dharamshalas in Joshimath Municipality area. Arrangements have also been made for their food and drink

The government had made arrangements for the disaster-affected people to stay in hotels till March 31. As the last date nears, hotel owners have started asking the affected to vacate the rooms.

Hotel owner Govind Singh says that there are 10 rooms in his hotel. Two of these rooms have been given to the disaster-affected. The administration had asked to keep affected till March. Now they need rooms for the Chardham Yatra. Many times large groups of pilgrims come. In such a situation, if the disaster-affected people are kept here, they will not be able to provide rooms to the pilgrims.

Another hotel owner, Kuldeep, says that his hotel has six rooms, of which three have been given people affected by the disaster. "The government had said that Rs 950 will be given for a room per day, but no payment has been made so far."

Kuldeep said that now the rooms will have to be vacated in view of the Chardham Yatra.

District Magistrate Himanshu Khurana said: "Orders were received (from the state government) to shift the disaster-affected people to hotels till March 31. The government has been written to keep the affected in hotels till April 30."

"Even after March 31, no disaster-affected person will be excluded from hotels. If a hotel owner is asking the affected people to leave the hotel, it will be investigated, " he asserted.

SDM Kumkum Joshi said: "We had permission till March 31 to accommodate the disaster-affected people in hotels. The government has been written to extend the period. Most of the hotels have been paid rent. However, due to non-completion of GST and other documentations of some home stays and hotels, the rent has not been paid."

It has been almost three months since the subsidence hit Joshimath. But the suffering of the disaster-affected people continues to haunt them.

Meena Devi of Joshimath's Singhdhar ward, who is living with her family in a hotel, says that her five-member family has been living in a room since January 13. "The hotel owner has asked to vacate the room by March 31. Rooms are not available on rent in the market. Now we will have to return to our cracked house, " she narrated.

Disaster-affected Ukha Devi, who is staying in the same hotel, says: "We are looking for a room on rent but we are not getting it in safe area. Rooms are full everywhere."

Similarly, disaster victim Rama Devi says: "We found shelter in a dharamshala, but now, in view of Chardham Yatra, we are being asked to leave from here. I have two children. Husband has died. Initially, ration was provided for cooking, but now even that is not available. Even the health department team is not coming in the area."

State Disaster Management Secretary, Ranjit Sinha, said: "Letter in this regard has not yet been received from the District Magistrate Chamoli. The decision will be taken in accordance to the suggestions made by the district administration."

The government will take full care of both, the hoteliers as well as the disaster-affected people, he added.

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