SHILLONG, Sept 1 - One of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal was built in 20 years, but construction of Meghalaya�s Crowborough Hotel has been going on for the past 30 years.
Work began on the project for the 5-star hotel in the 1980s. It was launched as a grand project, but inefficiency of the different state governments proved to be a major hindrance.
It was planned that the 104-room hotel would have 8 economy, 58 standard and 30 deluxe rooms. It would also have five suites, a restaurant, coffee shop, bar, disco, banquet hall, and a state-of-the-art convention centre. There would also be a beauty parlour, health club with sauna and a shopping arcade.
In 1987, the state government handed the project to M/s SA Builders. The estimated cost of construction at that time was Rs 2.6 crore, and it was supposed to be completed in 1988. But the project failed due to varied reasons and it was handed to another builder, M/s Astra Construction Limited. The second builder too failed, and both went to court as the state government scrapped the deal. Settlement out of court was agreed upon, which cost a fortune in terms of funds from the public exchequer. Time was wasted and it created a poor image for the state government.
In 2008, the project was leased to a coal baron for 33 years for Rs. 99.89 crore. However, the businessman defaulted on paying the lease to the government.
Had the construction of the hotel gone on in some obscure corner of the state capital, it probably would have been a different issue. But since the hotel is being built bang in the heart of Shillong, it became a talking point for the public and a den for anti-socials.
Nevertheless, now the Taj Mahal�s namesake, Taj Vivanta, has come to the rescue of the project. Recently, an agreement was signed between the Indian Hotels Co Ltd and the lessee to operate the 5-star hotel.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma was present during signing of the agreement along with Tourism Minister Metbah Lyngdoh. Sangma termed the signing of the agreement as a �positive step for tourism and the hospitality sector�. But only time will tell how the story finally ends.