Hari Niwas cost ‘Rs 30 cr’ to state exchequer in 8 years, Govt wants to outsource it for 6 cr

Srinagar: The Hari Niwas Guest House at Gupkar, which had cost around 30 crore to the state exchequer for the last eight years has received a poor response from bidders for outsourcing the sprawling estate.

The government had decided to outsource Hari Niwas Guest House to earn major revenue from it and attract high-end visitors to Kashmir.

Sources disclosed to KNS that only two bidders have expressed their desire to take it on rent for the next five years.

Hari Niwas was turned into dreaded torture centres of Kashmir when armed insurgency broke out in 1990. In 2007, Hari Niwas became the official residence of former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who according to official sources renovated it at a cost of more than Rs 15 crore from the state exchequer.

Like his predecessor Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has refused to set foot in Hari Niwas – an elite property built by last Dogra king Hari Singh for his wife Maharani Tara Devi. Reason – the palace is believed to be jinxed.

However, the government has now decided to outsource the Hari Niwas that is being presently managed by the Directorate of Hospitality and Protocol department.

During the post flood, sources said the government had spent around 10 crore for refurnishing it. “Since 2007, around 30 crore has been spent on the Hari Niwas Guest House but received poor response in bidding,” an official said.

Director Hospitality and Protocol, Tariq Hussain Ganie, said the department has received two offers from the local bidders to take Hari Niwas on rent for five years with the lower limit for the bid of Rs 6 crore. “We are yet to open the envelope and has forwarded them to the government,” Ganie told KNS.

When asked that government has spent crores of rupees on renovation of the Hari Niwas, he replied, “I don’t have any such knowledge since I have taken the charge three months ago. I even don’t know how much the Hari Niwas has cost to the state exchequer over the years.”

Sources said the government had decided to outsource it after Mumbai-based event managers and wedding planners discussed the idea with Chief Minster Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who assured them all possible support in helping them organize the big fat Kashmir wedding for their world-wide clientele. “The poor bidding has forced government to think over outsourcing the Hari Niwas Guest House since it would be the failure of the government’s decision if it does not generate the revenue it had spent over it,” a senior government official said.

Built over 70 kanals (one kanal=0.8 acre) of land, it boasts three presidential suites, a VVIP guesthouse and four master bedrooms.

Superstitious people linked Azad’s fall in 2008 to the myth that the palace was haunted. It is said that a “jyotshi had told Maharaja Hari Singh not to build the palace at the place on Gupkar Road as it was the abode of Shiksha Devi, the goddess of evil”. The feudal ruler ignored the warning and tried to build the palace for his wife Maharani Tara Devi. However, the events of 1947 proved inauspicious and forced the Dogra ruler to pack his belongings from Kashmir. His dream of living in the new palace never realized.

After Azad’s departure, Omar Abdullah flatly refused to use the building as his official residence. He preferred another property close to his father’s residence on the same Gupkar Road. The spruced up Hari Niwas was designated as state guest house and the murky and mysterious history continued to haunt it and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has refused to take it over as chief minister’s official residence.KNS 

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