By ABHINANDAN MISHRA | New Delhi | 6 May, 2017 – Sunday Guardian
Manohar Parrikar had ordered a probe, but with a change of guard in defence ministry, things have stalled.
Private resorts and hotels in Landour cantonment, Mussoorie, continue to function even though former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had ordered a probe, nearly nine months ago, to find out how they were allowed to come up in the high security sensitive zone.
Mussoorie based officials accused that the defence ministry was trying to “cover up” the matter to save the skin of “influential people” involved in the business.
The matter had first come to light in July last year when the estate officer of Institute of Technology Management (ITM), which is a Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) laboratory, wrote to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and then to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), seeking inquiry into how high-end resorts and hotels were functioning in the cantonment area when no such permission was given by the government departments concerned.
Following the uproar, Parrikar had ordered a probe. But the “probe” seems to have “died down” with a change of guard in the ministry.
“Nothing has happened in that matter. Only initially, once, a senior official had come in the last week of July to look into the matter. The resorts and hotels, without having valid permission to run, continue to function without any hindrance despite the fact that they are situated in a cantonment area. Many foreign nationals are running these resorts, so you can understand how much of a security threat is involved. It is very shameful that the MoD has chosen to ignore this issue and has taken it so casually,” a senior official associated with the DRDO said.
As per a 12 May 2016 letter, which has been accessed by this newspaper, the Landour Cantonment Board had not given any licenses to any persons or firms to run guest houses in the cantonment area.
According to officials, neither the CBI, nor the CVC nor the MoD had so far even interacted with the public servants who are aware of how the resorts and hotels were illegally constructed.
“I do not know what kind of probe they are doing. Even if they are not serious about the probe and just want to do a formality, they should have at least called those people who are aware of the matter and spoken to them before giving a clean chit to the owners of those hotels and resorts which are running illegally. These resorts could not have come-up without the complicity of hoteliers and MoD officials and hence no one wants to take the probe further,” another senior official of DRDO stated.