How many times have you cursed the neighbourhood banquet hall and the umpteen weddings that take place there? How many times have you been stuck in the traffic jams that baraatis and others cause by parking their cars on the road? How many times have you wished to know if the hall was authorised or not?
A recent Central Information Commission (CIC) directive to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) might be of help. The CIC has asked the civic body to update its regulations and related information about banquet halls on its website.
The directive came after an RTI application was filed by S. Chandra to find out if the MCD has any fixed norms to allow the operation of banquet halls in municipal limits and the preventive steps if there are any operations in an unauthorized manner.
Chandra, a Central government employee, also asked if the MCD had allowed such halls in residential areas, if any licence was needed and such related questions.
In its reply, the MCD said it does not allow banquet halls in residential areas. However, since it did not provide the answers to all the questions, Chandra went to the CIC.
CIC Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi took cognisance of the fact that the original application had made rounds of all 12 zones of MCD and respective health departments.
“The information provided by Shahdara South zone is revealing as it shows that there are 38 banquet halls out of which 35 are without any license and the three, which had ad hoc registrations, are in residential areas,” Gandhi observed.
On one hand, the MCD maintains that such halls are not allowed in residential areas, on the other hand, it has taken no action on such halls. “It is revealed that in one year, not a single challan has been issued in this zone for serving food in these banquet halls without a license,” Gandhi added.
Criticising lack of centralised information at the headquarters, the Commissioner also directed the MCD to update information about challans issued against unlicensed banquet halls and also ensure that rules and regulations for the operation of any banquet halls be put up on the website.