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Vinod Kumar, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, October 11, 2013
Is your car service centre located in Chandigarh’s industrial area? Uncertainty looms over their fate now as the UT administration has found automobile repair “non-feasible” in both phases of industrial area, though it had given its nod three years ago.
In a communication to the department of industries on October 9, the finance department ruled against the trade. Note, however, that after the demand by the Industrial Association of Chandigarh (IAC), the finance department had, on March 11, 2010, passed an order that ‘automobile service station with denting and painting’ are eligible for registration as “industry-related service enterprises”. There are, thus, 50 registered vehicle service centres, which are now getting misuse notices from the estate department seeking a reply in 30 days.

In its October 9 communiqué, the finance department has declared warehousing, too, as non-feasible. Though this is not a case of backtracking — there was never a nod or promise for okaying it anyway — industrialists are not happy with this decision either. There are around 50 warehouses in the area.

Arun Mahajan, president of IAC, said the “uncertain” functioning of the administration had created a scare amongst industrialists: “How can the administration suddenly disallow an activity that it had approved earlier? Industry is going through a rough phase, and such arbitrary decisions make things more difficult.”

The administration had set up the two phases industrial area in the 1970s on 147 acres. Plots are originally for manufacturing units, and, for using land for commercial purposes other than manufacturing, one has to get permission.

The u-turn on automobile service centres follows misuse notices — `500 per square yard — sent recently to around 100 units in the area for violating building bylaws.

Despite repeated attempts, UT assistant estate officer (AEO) Rahul Gupta and director, industries, Mahavir Kaushik remained unavailable for comment.

Besides, the administration has also not found transfer of leasehold industrial plots feasible at this stage. The view is that the plots were allotted for setting up businesses, not for further sale. Recently, three industrialists had approached the Punjab and Haryana high court challenging the provisions of the Chandigarh Estate Rules, 2007, pertaining to transfer of such plots.

However, the administration has taken a sympathetic view of the demand for need-based changes, and forwarded the matter to the UT chief architect for consideration.