The government will soon privatise eight loss-making hotels run by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) as it plans to offload all the sick units, tourism minister Mahesh Sharma said on Sunday.
"We propose that all our sick units need to be offloaded. Out of 16 hotels, eight are in very bad shape and we propose to disinvest it in the very first phase. It is not wise to bear the burden of these loss-making units," Sharma told news agency PTI. "The ball has started rolling," Sharma said, adding that the formal process should begin within two months.
However, he ruled out the possibility of selling off The Ashok, the flagship property of ITDC in the Capital.
The hotel alone incurred a loss of about Rs 13 crore in 2014-15 while other ITDC hotels together ran up losses of about Rs 15 crore.
"Ashok will not be on the block. We are trying to revamp it and this year we will make it a profitable venture," the minister said.
Currently ITDC, a public sector unit under the tourism ministry, runs 16 hotels, including three in Delhi and the rest in Jammu, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Patna, Bhopal, Bharatpur, Jaipur, Guwahati, Pondicherry, Mysore and Itanagar.
The eight hotels which are likely to go under the hammer include those at Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Jammu, Guwahati, Ranchi, Pondicherry and the Lalitha Mahal hotel in Mysore-all of which are loss-making.
The minister said that whether privatisation will be through joint venture or giving the operation and management to private players on a lease or any other modes was yet to be decided.
To a question on how much money the government expects from disinvestment of ITDC properties, Sharma said: "It is not possible to say now. A proposal will be sent to the Cabinet and the mode of disinvestment will be decided."
During the National Democratic Alliance's first stint in power between 1999 and 2004, the then-Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had divested 18 ITDC hotels bringing down the number of state-run hotels from 34 to 16.
Besides, the network of hotels, ITDC also runs 11 transport units, nine duty-free shops at airports and seaports.