The Controversy

Nearly five years after work commencement, the project was mired in controversy.

Facts

The government land had initially belonged to Jaipur Development Authority, but was transferred to the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC). RTDC handed over on lease for 99 years this public land adjoining Man Sagar Lake, to the highest bidder for developing tourist facilities around the lake including the construction of resorts and other infrastructure for a fee of Rs 2.5 crore per year.

Top of Page

Objections

Objections were raised against how government land could be leased out for 99 years instead of 30 years, which was akin to selling it. Criminal complaints were filed against RTDC. In May 2010, a society, Dharohar Bachao Samiti was formed, that petitioned before the High Court.

The Petitions

Between 2010 and 2011 three Civil Writ (PIL) Petitions were filed by Prof. K. P. Sharma, of Dharohar Bachao Samiti and Heritage Preservation Society demanding to quash and set aside the Mansagar Lake Lease Agreement, which gave 100 acres of land on lease for a period of 99 years to JalMahal Resorts Private Limited.

Petitions were also made to direct JMRPL –
  • to restore in the original condition, the 100 acres of land, by removing all sedimentation and settling tanks from the Mansagar Lake basin, at its own cost and to hand over the possession to the Municipal Corporation, Jaipur;
  • to immediately remove all sedimentation and settling tanks from the Mansagar Lake basin at its own costs;
  • to restore Nagtalai and Brahampuri Nalah (Drains) to their original position as realigned by RUIDP under Mansagar Lake Restoration Plan.

Top of Page


High Court verdict

In May 2012 the High Court of Rajasthan bench of Justice Mahesh Bhagwati and Justice Arun Mishra cancelled the 99-year lease for 100 acres of land, given by the state government to a private firm to develop tourist resort there. A division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Mahesh Bhagwati declared the agreement illegal and revoked the state government's 2005 order stating that the government had no right to lease out public property and it had violated all norms in leasing it out.

While cancelling the lease agreement for executing 'Jal Mahal Project,' the court also revoked the government's order to give the heritage monument Jal Mahal, located in the middle of the picturesque lake, 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 court also directed the government to remove all construction raised at the site by the developer and recover its cost from it.

The court's order came on a plea by an advocate Bhatwat Gaur, who through his counsel A K Jain, had alleged that the government had given the land on throwaway price of Rs 2.5 crore per annum to the firm.

Top of Page



Supreme Court Offers Temporary Relief for Project

The Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd that was to lose the lease after the Rajasthan High Court declared the agreement illegal, filed a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme court, challenging the High Court verdict. The SLP was mentioned before a division bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice S J Mukhopadhaya. The Supreme Court stayed the Rajasthan High Court judgment that had cancelled the lease of 100-acre land near Mansagar Lake, Jaipur to a private company to develop tourist facilities. The division bench, however, restrained the private company from undertaking any fresh construction at the site except for carrying out restoration and renovation of the monument.

Top of Page