SC’s nod to Jal Mahal tourism development project at Jaipur

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has given its nod to the controversial Jal Mahal tourism development project near Jaipur’s Mansagar lake with certain modifications in the 2005 lease deed, executed by the state government and scrapped by the Rajasthan High Court in 2012.

A bench of justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Pinaki Chandra Ghose last month set aside the High Court verdict cancelling the multi-crore rupees Jal Mahal tourism development project adjoining the 17th century lake.

It, however, reduced the lease period for from 99 to 30 years and also said that some portion of the leased out 100- acre land will be kept aside to be under the control of the state government as it formed part of the adjoining lake.

It also said no construction shall be carried out on around 14 acre of the leased out plot.

The Rajasthan High Court, on May 17, 2012, had cancelled the government lease accorded in 2005 in favour of Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd. The lease deed, which was initially meant for 60 years, later extended for a period of 99 years.

“In fact, we have noted that when the tender was floated for granting the lease deed, the maximum period for the lease deed as per the rules could not have been more than 30 years yet the tender was floated for a period of 60 years, which was later extended to 99 years.

This in our view could not have been done by the state government….” the bench said, adding that it amounted to granting a perpetual lease deed.

“We set aside the period of lease which has been granted in favour of the lesse (Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd) for a period of 99 years and the same shall stand reduced to a period of 30 years only which could be the maximum period of the lease for the land, under the rules,” it said.

The apex court’s decision came on an appeal filed by Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd challenging the High Court verdict canceling its lease.

Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd was awarded lease for 100 acres of land on the precincts of Mansagar lake for a period of 99 years in 2005 by the then Rajasthan government.

Earlier, the High Court had allowed the three PILs filed by K P Sharma, Dharohar Bachao Samiti, Rajasthan and Heritage Preservation Society against the project.

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