GUWAHATI, Aug 28 - The Brahmaputra Ashok, which will close down on August 31, has outstanding bills to the tune of several crores of rupees, some even pending since 1987 when the hotel was opened.
Ironically, the government is justifying the move to close down the hotel citing the huge losses it has been incurring.
According to a report prepared by the hotel management on August 23, different customers, mostly government departments, owe the hotel Rs 2.36 crore. This is besides some bulk amounts like dues to the tune of over Rs 2 crore from catering in the National Games held in the city in 2007, over which an arbitration case is going on.
The Chief Minister�s Secretariat has outstanding bills to the tune of Rs 20.42 lakh, while the Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner�s office has around Rs 22.44 lakh unpaid bills.
Among others are AASU (Rs 2.31 lakh), BCPL (Rs 4.14 lakh), ASEAN Car Rally, 2012 (Rs 13.50 lakh), Director, Sports & Youth Welfare (Rs 11.12 lakh), Director, Tourism (Rs 9.13 lakh), GAD (Rs 13.65 lakh), etc.
Most of the outstanding bills pertain to State government departments. According to the document, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma also has an unpaid bill of Rs 34,900 in his name.
The Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) has been claiming that the hotel was running on losses, justifying its move to close it down.
�Some bills of DC office are pending since 1987,� a source in the hotel said.
The hotel staff says reminders are sent to the people and departments who have outstanding bills. �Some respond at times, others don�t,� they say, blaming the problem on the mismanagement on the part of ITDC and lack of monitoring on the part of the Assam government.
The hotel was a joint venture of the ITDC and the Assam Tourism department.
�In 2011, the hotel was at a no-profit and no-loss state. In 2012-13, there was an operational profit of Rs 35 lakh, and in the following year it went up to Rs 55 lakh. However, after big private hotels came up in the city, the business went down. We got very little government business. All programmes were organised in private hotels,� the staff said.
�Even if we do not get the bills, we have to incur the recurring expenditures like salaries, maintenance etc,� they added.
The iconic hotel, located on the scenic banks of the Brahmaputra, has an operational expenditure of around Rs 30 lakh every month.
The Union Cabinet had in May last gave approval to disinvestment of three ITDC hotels at Bhopal, Bharatpur and Guwahati.
The ATDC, which took over the hotel on July 1, plans to convert it into a State guest house and convention centre. There are two State guest houses in the city � one occupied by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal (Brahmaputra Guest House) and another atop Koinadhora hill by his predecessor Tarun Gogoi.