A day after an inspection by estate office officials underlined it as misuse of premises, three makeshift shops and at least two shacks selling eatables from the Neelam Theatre building in Sector 17 were found closed voluntarily. But officials said the violations could not be seen as having ceased completely since the shops still existed, and so did other violations, including misuse of advertisement panels and non-permitted openings in the building.
As for the show-cause notice that had been drafted already on Tuesday, it wasn’t immediately clear if it had been issued yet or not. “We had told the owners orally to remove the violations by Tuesday evening. That, of course, was not done, so a showcause notice is the next step,” said an official who refused to be named.
Land acquisition officer Tilak Raj, who is to issue the notice, did not respond to calls and messages. The theatre is owned by Punjab minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Adeish Partap Singh Kairon.
The inspection on Tuesday was conducted by an estate office team. The shops right at the front of the theatre are essentially sub-units that are not permitted as per rules.
The owners stare at a misuse fine of Rs 500 per square feet per day. It must be noted, however, that there is already a wider legal challenge to the misuse fine amount having been hiked some years ago from Rs 10 per sq ft per day. It is contended that the UT authorities cannot hike the amount without an amendment in the relevant law by Parliament. Around 2,000 misuse notices are already hanging fire due to the controversy over the fine amount.
Action on the theatre came on a “specific complaint”, said an official. For now, the notice talks of misuse of over 1,900 sq feet expressly.