Chandigarh: UT administration has finally woken up to the issue of government run Himachal Bhawan being run as a hotel in Chandigarh. The excise and taxation department, Chandigarh, recently imposed a penalty of Rs. 40 lakh towards evasion of sales tax and VAT payments for the period 2000 – 2010.
As per reports, Himachal Bhawan was given a fortnight’s time ending on December 8 to deposit this amount which has now been extended up to December 15 on the request of Bhawan’s management.
Earlier the excise and taxation department officials had raided the Himachal Bhawan situated in sector 28 upon complaints of irregularities in it’s functioning. Himachal Bhawan is managed by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC).
The most surprising aspect of the functioning of Himachal Bhawan which came to limelight was that for the past 10 years HPTDC authorities did not seek to even apply for sale tax and VAT number which is a statutory requirement to run a lodging establishment.
The tax evasion seems well planned for the fact that HPTDC, a govt undertaking, runs around 60 hotels in Himachal Pradesh and is well conversant with the governing laws.
As per sources Himachal Bhawan Chandigarh has done a business of over 4 crore in the past ten years without paying any taxes to the UT administration.
It remains to be seen whether any responsibility will be fixed within the Corporation for such a major blunder. Lately Himachal Bhawan was in news recently as a theft was reported from a room when a Shimla resident was robbed of Rs. 30,000 cash along with jewellery and diamonds.
Himachal Live in it’s story Getting room at Himachal Bhawan Chandigarh had earlier raised the issue of Bhawan being operated as a hotel thus depriving Himachal residents of affordable accommodation in Chandigarh.
HPTDC authorities have cleverly omitted Bhawan from their tourist brochure but the same can be booked online on it’s website at an astronomical tariff of Rs. 1900 and Rs. 2600 per night; Something which is clearly un-affordable for an average Himachali.