Pune based hoteliers have requested the state government to release the ransoms for the hotels which were "forcibly requisitioned" by the district administration, under the Disaster Management Act, to keep the COVID-19 medical staff, patients in isolation during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in April.
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India and the Pune Hoteliers Association (PHA) said approximately Rs 10 crore for 24 hotels had been used.
The per-day rates determined by the administration were Rs 2,000 for a five-star hotel room, and Rs 500 for a non-star hotel room respectively. The rooms were taken over since April, the month when the lockdown was imposed in Pune.
Asking to free off the compensation, the association registered their grievance regarding the disservice with district collector Rajesh Deshmukh.
"The hoteliers have approached the administration and I am looking into their complaints," said Deshmukh. "I have sought all the details on requisition and bills from the concerned department and based on the details, further action will be taken," added Deshmukh.
"It is reported by members that although their hotels have been requisitioned and taken over, no payment of compensation has been made so far in any of the cases. This has led to further losses and our members are unable to meet even the daily expenses during these times. Hence, it may not be bearable to sustain the further burden of forced operations due to the requisitioned housing of guests," mentioned in the letter that the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India wrote to the district collector and chief minister of Maharashtra on September 8.
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, the president of the association, said, "we did what the government asked us to do. Hotels were requisitioned for the purposes of accommodating health workers and doctors and were promised compensation against the services provided, but we are still waiting for it. Hotel staff risked their lives to serve those who were quarantined in their hotels during the lockdown."
"We are hurt at the 'use it and throw' policy of the government. It is ultimately the government which is bringing down this sector through its step-motherly treatment of the hotel industry. They are treating us like doormats. The industry is dying thanks to the state government as we are shut for five months. We stood by the government and it has failed us. They promised us compensation, but nothing has happened and we are sitting like beggars for their alms. Forty per cent of the industry will shut down due to the indifferent attitude of the government," Kohli added.
Sharan Shetty, president, Pune hotelier's association, lamented that unfortunately, the hotels are carrying the repercussions of a decision that was made in good faith. "Hotels were made to open and carry out operations by the state when they were closed. They have incurred expenses which they wouldn't have if they were to remain shut. Now hotels are receiving electricity bills with penalties for not paying on time," said Shetty.