By ABHINANDAN MISHRA | NEW DELHI | 30 July, 2016
The CBI is yet to act on a complaint made by an estate officer belonging to the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO), alleging that private individuals have constructed several guesthouses and hotels illegally in the high security and sensitive Landour cantonment area in Mussoorie.
The complaint letter and other related documents that have been accessed by this newspaper, say that the construction of hotels and guesthouses in the cantonment area was done without taking any required permission, mostly between 2000 and 2014. The letter alleges that most of the hotels and the guesthouses belong to a Mumbai based hotelier named Sanjay Narang.
In the letter, which was sent by the DRDO official on 6 July to the CBI, the complainant had stated that several high-end hotels and guesthouses were running illegally in the high security cantonment area.
“There many high end hotels and guest houses are running here illegally such as Rokeby Manor, Bothwell Bank, Tabour Cottage, Pine Tree Lodge, Lanodur Bakery (all owned by Mars Hospitality Group of Sanjay Narang), La Villa Batheny, Ivy Bank, Domas Inn, Devdar Woods, Prospect Point,” the letter, which was received by the CBI, reads.
According to the letter, the CEO of the Landour Cantonment Board stated that “no permission has been given to anyone to build any guesthouse” when the DRDO official wrote to the former, asking how and when permission to build these guesthouses were given.
The reply by Subrat Pal, the CEO of the Landour Cantonment, dated 12 May 2016, reads: “The board has not given licenses to any persons or firms to run the guest houses in the cantonment area.”
The DRDO official thereafter wrote to the CBI seeking investigation into how these guesthouses and resorts were allowed to come up in the high security zone.
“Sachin Tendulkar had admitted that he had met Manohar Parrikar to seek help in sorting out the problems being faced by Narang in Landour cantonment.”
The complainant, in his letter alleged, “Mr Narang also constructed a big mansion (Dahlia Bank) behind ITM violating Works of Defence act… It’s impossible to run 12 hotels without permission in a cantonment area, if (the) integrity and sanctity of the Cantonment is intact.” This newspaper has independently confirmed that the CBI has received the letter. ITM is Institute of Technology Management, a DRDO laboratory.
Sources in DRDO said that ITM had raised the issue of illegal construction of guesthouses and resorts in the cantonment area in 2007 and had written to the local authorities and the cantonment board seeking investigation into the same. But no action was taken either by the local authorities or the cantonment board, sources further revealed.
According to them, a letter seeking inquiry into these illegal constructions was also written to the Defence Estate Officer, Meerut Cantonment, in June this year after which a senior defence official from the Central Command met the complainant and other officials last week in Mussoorie.
This newspaper has accessed another letter written by one Colonel Sial, nominated member from ITM in the Landour Cantonment Board. The letter, written in May, alleges that at least six guesthouses and resorts are being operated by Mars Hospitality Group inside Landour cantonment area. The letter reads: “…none of the owners of the properties have been able to produce any letter that allows them to carry out construction, repair or addition.”
Replying to this newspaper’s queries, Sanjay Narang stated, “I have not seen any complaint filed by the ITM against our properties in Landour. Rest assured all of our properties have been acquired legally and are operated with all permissions necessary. We have no resort in Landour and the only guesthouse we operate in Landour is Rokeby Manor, which has been running since prior to 1905.” Despite repeated attempts, CBI director Anil Sinha did not respond to the queries of this newspaper. However, sources in the agency said that since this was a very high profile matter, the agency was waiting before taking appropriate action. Retired cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had last week admitted that he had met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to seek help in sorting out the problems being faced by Narang in Landour cantonment.