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Closeness to the Prime Minister’s residence has prompted the government to put on hold any disinvestment in the Ashok and Samrat hotels. This was disclosed by Mahesh Sharma, minister of state for environment, forests & climate change, at the annual general meeting of the PHDCCI business chamber. The adjacent hotels are very close to the PM’s house at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg (better known by the former name, Race Course Road). Sharma said 15 other hotels owned by the state would be disinvested as scheduled, as the government held that operating these was not its business.
Earlier this year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved initiation of the process of disinvestment of hotels and other properties of India Tourism Development Corporation.To begin with, three properties — Hotel Lake View Ashok in Bhopal, Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok at Guwahati and Hotel Bharatpur Ashok in Bharatpur — are being returned to the respective state governments, of Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Rajasthan. In the case of Bhopal and Guwahati, ITDC is divesting its share of 51 per cent in the joint venture company formed for operation of the hotels. The Bharatpur one is only managed by ITDC and will be returned to the state government. Sharma said India needed to preserve its cultural diversities and ensure economic development did not hurt ecological sensitivities.