Ashok and Samrat hotels not to be disinvested: Mahesh Sharma

New Delhi, Oct 26. Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma today said two ITDC hotels, Ashok and Samrat, would not be disinvested due to security concerns arising out of these being located close to the prime minister's residence -- 7, Lok Kalyan Marg. Speaking at the 112th Annual Session of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, Sharma said barring these two, all the other 15 hotels owned by the government-run Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) would eventually be disinvested. The minister added that he had a discussion (when he held the tourism portfolio) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the disinvestment of the ITDC hotels and conveyed to the latter that of the 17, he wanted to disinvest eight as they were incurring losses. "He (Modi) asked me, why eight and not all the 17? I said Hotel Ashok and Hotel Samrat are located near your official residence, so there are security issues. He said the government was not in the business of running businesses. Thus, except these two, the other hotels will be disinvested," Sharma said. The government has recently disinvested three ITDC hotels. The Union cabinet, in September, approved the transfer of Hotel Jaipur Ashok and Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Mysore, to the governments of Rajasthan and Karnataka respectively. It also gave a go-ahead to disinvest ITDC's 51 per cent equity in Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok, Itanagar, in favour of the government of Arunachal Pradesh. As part of the Centre's disinvestment policy, it has been decided to lease and sub-lease the hotels and properties, jointly with the states concerned, or return the properties to the states, after a fair valuation. The states would then have the option of upgrading and operating the hotels by engaging private players or utilising the properties as per their requirements. Sharma also held the tourism portfolio till the cabinet reshuffle in September.