SC allows firm to maintain Man Sagar Lake



New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday permitted a private firm to carry out preservation and restoration works of Man Sagar Lake in addition to the historical Jal Mahal, which have been leased out to it for developing into a tourist resort in Rajasthan's capital Jaipur.

"They (Private firm) will be allowed to carry out all activities of maintenance of Jal Mahal as well as the lake," said a bench comprising justices Deepak Verma and Gyan Sudha Mishra, while clarifying that "the lake is also a part of the monument."

The apex court extended its May 25 order by which it had stayed the Rajasthan High Court order, which had cancelled the 99-year lease of the 100-acre land having 16th century Jal Mahal and Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur to Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd.

The apex court had restrained the private firm from undertaking any fresh construction on the site but had only allowed preservation and restoration work of the historical monument.

The bench will hear three petitions filed on the issue together.

When the matter came up for hearing, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar and Vivek Tankha, appearing for the Jal Mahal Resorts, said the opposite parties have not filed their replies to the notices issued on May 25 and sought that the matter be put for final hearing.

"What is the urgency?," the bench, however, asked and said "You are already standing on sound footing."

The bench also clarified that the private company was at its own risk in carrying out the work on the monument and lake as the interim order was subject to the final outcome of the matter before it.

The high court on May 17 had cancelled the lease on a public interest litigation filed by Rajasthan resident Ved Prakash Sharma and some others.

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 had directed the government to take possession of the land and the monument with immediate effect.

The high court's order had come on a PIL alleging that the government had given the land on throwaway price of Rs 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.

PTI