PUNE: The Bombay high court on Thursday issued an interim stay on construction of a five-star hotel at the Balewadi sports complex, venue of the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG).

Acting on a petition filed by former Congress corporator from Pune, Sanjay Balgude, the HC bench directed the state government to file its say within 15 days, explaining how it can allow a five-star hotel on land earmarked as a public-semi-public (PSP) zone.

"The court has restrained the state from carrying out the construction till the say is filed and the case is taken up for discussion after 15 days," petitioner Balgude told TOI.

Planned on six acres of government-owned land, the hotel is being built to provide accommodation to sports persons participating in the CYG.

Balgude had procured letters from the Pune Municipal Corporation and the state director of sports and youth services, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which established that the said land (survey number 26/1B) falls in the PSP zone.

Pointing out that construction of a hotel is not allowed in a PSP zone, Balgude had filed a petition in the court, accusing the state and the civic officials of violating the development control (DC) rules.

He had submitted a copy of the letter issued by the PMC's city engineer to director of sports and youth service Laxmikant Deshmukh on May 25, 2007. The letter said: "The said land falls in the PSP zone both, in the Pune regional plan as well as in the draft development plan. And, a land set aside for PSP zone cannot be used for a hotel,"

However, through the same letter, the city engineer has granted a ‘conditional permission' to the construction by expressing the hope that the state urban development ministry will carry out necessary modification in the rules.

Balgude had challenged the legal validity of the ‘conditional permission' and had questioned whether the city engineer or the state will show similar leniency while clearing the building plans mooted by common citizens.

"The law of the land is same to all. Also, even if the government wants to change the PSP zone to commercial it will have to invite suggestions and objections from citizens as this cannot be called a minor modification in the DC rules. How can the PMC take it for granted that such changes will happen and grant a permission before the zone is changed?" Balgude asked.

HC stays construction of hotel -Pune-Cities-The Times of India