The Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government to explain why was it prohibiting the villagers living near the hill stations of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani from running bed & breakfast (B&B) units.
A division bench of Justices NH Patil and MS Karnik posed the question to the government on a writ petition filed by more than 150 villagers.
The petition claimed that with a recent amendment in the development plan, those living in Gaothan areas (outside the municipal limits of the two hill towns) can no longer participate in the B&B scheme approved by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
Also, those living within the city limits could now offer a maximum of two rooms in their houses or bungalows on rent, it said, adding that earlier, a house owner could offer as many as five rooms to the tourists.
The petitioners said they have been running MTDC-approved B&B units for 16 years.
“Why is the state depriving the poor of their source of livelihood? Are only the rich supposed to open and enjoy hotels?”, the judges asked while seeking an affidavit from the state justifying the new rules and posted the matter on February 7 for the next hearing.