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Crackdown launched against Murree hotels for overcharging


ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has launched a crackdown on hotels charging massive rents and selling food at exorbitant prices to stranded tourists during the Murree snowfall tragedy.

Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi directed authorities to seal a hotel allegedly charging Rs20,000 a night from stranded tourists on the day of the incident. The district administration took action after a receipt of a private hotel charging exorbitant rents for rooms went viral on social media.

Many tourists who returned from the hill station said hotel owners jacked up accommodation charges, forcing people to spend the night in their cars. They said that accommodation charges were raised to up to Rs70,000 per room from Rs6,000.

Some tourists said food prices also skyrocketed in the area amid the severe weather conditions. They said one pack of biscuits worth Rs10 was sold at Rs300, while a small water bottle was sold at as high as Rs300 while a single boiled egg was available for Rs250.

Almost all tourists have left the hill station by Sunday evening after major roads reopened. NDMA Chairperson said 600 to 700 vehicles were evacuated and over 5,000 cars left Murree on Sunday.

The government further extended the temporary travel ban to Murree and Galiyat areas following the tragic incident at the hill station. Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed announced that the routes leading from Islamabad to Murree and Galiyat will remain closed for the next 24 hours and any decision to allow tourists to Murree and Galiyat would be made after considering the latest situation.

At least 22 tourists who were stranded in their vehicles due to heavy snowfall died from the extreme weather in Murree last week. An initial investigation report blamed administrative failures during the influx of tourists to the hill station during snowfall.

The initial investigation report stated that the main roads of Murree hill station and its adjoining areas were not maintained for the last two years that had caused disruption in traffic flow due to snow-filled pits.

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