Despite death warrant, Centaur Hotel to get Rs.416-mn facelift

February 3rd, 2009 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) Centaur, the state-owned hotel located near the Delhi airport, will be given a Rs.416.5-million facelift even though it will be demolished after the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, official sources said.The sources said the board of the Hotel Corp of India (HCI), which runs the five-star hotel, was in the process of finalising a proposal to pump in Rs.35.15 crore (Rs.351.5 million) to add more rooms to accommodate the anticipated tourist inflow during the Delhi Games next year.

In fact, the board of HCI, a wholly-owned arm of the National Aviation Co of India that also operates the national carrier Air India, had early last year approved a Rs.6.5-crore (Rs.65-million) capital expenditure for renovating Centaur.

All this has made the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture sceptical; it has now raised apprehensions over the proposal and wants the civil aviation ministry to ensure that the expenditure does not go waste.

Any amount of expenditure for developing Centaur at this stage “must serve the purpose” as “the hotel is waiting to be bulldozed in view of the master plan of Indira Gandhi International Airport as planned by Delhi International Airport Ltd”, the committee said in a recent report.

DIAL - a consortium comprising infrastructure developers GMR of Bangalore, Fraport AG of Germany and Malaysia Airport Holding Berhad, as well as the national airports operator, Airports Authority of India - has indicated that the hotel falls on the footprint of the new terminal T3 that is under construction.

The first phase of the terminal is scheduled to be completed by 2010, and DIAL says the hotel needed to be demolished for further extension. “We will take over the hotel by 2011-12 for the airport expansion programme,” DIAL chief executive Andrew Harrison told IANS.

“We have already spent Rs.7 crore (Rs.70 million) on renovating 127 guest rooms, food and beverage outlets, public areas and kitchen,” said HCI vice-president Tanvir Haziq. He, however, refused to comment on the parliamentary committee’s apprehensions over the issue.

Some officials in the tourism ministry have also questioned the rationale for the upgrade.

“There are many luxury hotels in Delhi, including a few government-run hotels, which could have been renovated. We could have raised a new hotel with the same fund being pumped to renovate the Centaur,” said one official, requesting anonymity.

But those who are pushing the project have been quoting the projection made by Tourism Minister Ambika Soni in parliament that there would be a shortage of 30,000 hotel rooms in the national capital and adjoining cities during the Commonwealth Games.

HCI managing director D. Jena was not available for comment.

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