Fresh from its victory in the civic polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party is set to offer amnesty to hundreds of shops, in a one-off measure to protect them from being shut or razed under a government drive aimed at ridding the Capital of illegal structures.
On May 5, the BJP, in the first meeting of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s standing committee after the civic polls, will clear a proposal to implement an amnesty scheme prepared by V.K. Malhotra, offering protection to scores of illegal shops that otherwise would have been shut or demolished. Mayor Arti Mehra said the proposal was being prepared in consultation with the Town Planning Department and would be brought before the standing committee meeting on Friday. “As the BJP had promised in its election manifesto, the one-time scheme would cover all establishments that have come up till December 2006,” she said.
While the original amnesty scheme dealt only with the problem of unauthorised constructions, Mehra said the scheme had been suitably altered to give relief to traders operating from residential areas. If the amnesty scheme finds acceptance of the Delhi and Central governments, all shops in residential areas — irrespective of whether they are located along notified commercial stretch or not — would be allowed to carry business. “The scheme would put a complete end to the sealing drive. However, the MCD must ensure that no new commercial establishments come up on non-notified stretches,” said a senior BJP leader.
The Mayor said the MCD was in the process of identifying more roads that can be declared as commercial/mixed land use stretches. “The amnesty scheme is separate from the process of notifying roads. Once a residential road is declared as a commercial stretch, there is scope for opening more shops along it. However, no new shops would be allowed along non-notified roads, while the existing ones would be legalised,” she said.
With regard to the demolition drive, the Malhotra amnesty scheme does not have much to offer. “Under Master Plan 2021, the building bylaws have already been relaxed to a great deal. The new rules allow greater floor area ratio, more coverage etc.