A team of traders of Sector 17E, who faced strict action over structural violations on June 8, met the UT administrator's adviser on Tuesday to seek some relaxations in the bylaws, and got an assurance that no further action would be taken until a meeting between traders and officials.
So far, the deadline for corrective action as per bylaws and reconstruction in the particular lane - picked as pilot project for the Sector-17 rejuvenation plan - was set at June 28, since 15-day notices had been served on June 13. A survey, meanwhile, is on for the rest of Sector 17, for which no deadline has come up so far.
To discuss the suggested changes on four points in particular - air conditioners, balconies, signboards and wires - the meeting would be held next week with UT finance secretary Sarvjit Singh, as confirmed by adviser Vijay Kumar Dev. It will also be attended by chief architect Kapil Setia, for technical inputs, and deputy commissioner SB Deepak Kumar, who is the implementing authority and had ordered the June 8 action.
"We are hopeful of some flexibility,"said Tej Bans Singh Jauhar 'Tejee', who runs a photo studio in the 17E lane for almost five decades and was part of the delegation of nine traders. The team was led by Vijay Malik, an architect who has his office in 17E.
Earlier, the traders submitted to the adviser a letter, saying that they appreciate the "endeavours in making our market more energetic and vibrant".
"We are with the administration in clearing all types of encroachments at any place, but we hope you will appreciate our view that the recent action was unjustified in the ruthless manner in which property was damaged,"read the letter. It said the area after the operation "gave a view of a battlefield that gave a very scary picture to us, our families, employees, not to mention the tourists and visitors".
They also attached photos of the day when non-permitted billboards, loose wires, AC equipment and glass facade panelling were removed by a team of 200 men and women.
Traders had been informed and consulted about the rejuvenation plan since April, but the action was still seen as "sudden"and "ruthless".
"We feel you (adviser) will agree with us that the operation could have been carried out in a much better, refined and professional manner,"the letter said.
"Any loss to property is not only a loss to the individual concerned but is also a national loss of resources - natural and manufactured,"it stated.
Kamaljit Singh Panchhi, who is president of one of the traders' association in the sector and was part of the delegation, said they also suggested that the UT heritage committee for the area must have traders and the local councillor as members for better coordination and implementation of plans.
The delegation also comprised HS Gujral, Subhash Gulati, Ashwani Kukreja, Sanjiv Mahajan, Vinod Arora and Surinder Gulati.
4-point agenda: What the traders submitted
Air conditioners: "Now AC is not a luxury but a necessity. ACs in the front of various buildings were just thrown to the ground in the June 8 operation … [and] have not been returned,"the traders told the adviser. They also referred to an "order"of May 2002 by the UT chief administrator that said: "On the external facade, need based variations shall be allowed, provided that the norms for circulation, light ventilation etc are met."It also cited examples as ducts for AC unit and full-length show window, said the traders, seeking its implementation "so that AC units can be installed at the rear of SCOs or the terrace of the ground floor". "AC units on the roof are just not going to work as the distance to the vent would be several feet,"said the traders.
Balconies: About the three-foot-deep balconies on the front and rear in 17E, the traders said that when the balconies were created "the situation was totally different". "Now the balconies have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, flies, not to mention birds etc, besides being an entry point for thieves and robbers as is indicated by a number of thefts that have taken place through the balcony."They also flayed the June 8 operation of removal of balcony covering, leaving shops "vulnerable". The demand is that glazed glass "for beautification/security"may be allowed "with the condition that all shall have a uniform design".
Signboards: "We support all having uniform signboards, for which the administration should have specified a size, colour scheme, font etc. You will also agree that the colourful signboards installed by the traders at a substantial cost gave a good display to the Sector 17E market and added to the ambiance besides adding to festivities that any tourist would require,"said the traders, underlining that neon signs too "are today a standard practice in all commercial areas at all places all over the world"and thus should be allowed.
Wires: During the June 8 drive, internet, telephone and power supply lines were simply cut, disrupting these important services, underlined the traders. "Internet and telephone services have still not been restored due to which traders are not only facing connectivity problems but customers are also facing problems as we cannot entertain their credit and debit cards... No service provider is willing to put up cables again in Sector 17 till they receive clarity as to what the proper method is, since they argue the first lot of wires was in accordance to your rules and regulations, but the task force still went about cutting them without any regard. A number of the lines had been put up by the national carrier BSNL."