The Supreme Court today stayed the Rajasthan High Court order cancelling the lease of 100-acre land having historical Jal Mahal and Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur to a private firm to develop a tourist resort. A bench of justices Deepak Verma and S J Mukhopadhaya, however, restrained the private firm from undertaking any fresh construction on the site but allowed preservation and restoration work of the historical monument. The bench also issued notice to Rajasthan government and Ved Prakash Sharma, on whose plea the high court had cancelled the lease.
The High Court had on May 17 cancelled the 99-year lease for 100 acre land with historical Jal Mahal on it within the 16th century Man Sagar Lake given by the state government to the firm Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd. It had revoked the state government’s 2005 order saying that the government had no right to lease out the public property and had violated all norms in leasing out the monument. While cancelling the lease for executing ‘Jal Mahal Project,’ the court had also revoked the government order to give heritage monument Jal Mahal on a license to the ‘Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd’ and directed the government to take possession of the land and the monument with immediate effect.
The high court’s order came on a PIL alleging that the government had given the land on throwaway price of 2.5 crore per annum to the firm. The public land adjoining Man Sagar Lake was handed over on lease for 99 years by Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) to the firm for developing tourist facilities around the lake. The government land initially belonged to Jaipur Development Authority, but had been transferred to the RTDC which handed it over to the firm for construction of resorts and developing other infrastructure. Jal Mahal was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 as a summer palace in the lake located on Amber road.
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