When a Connaught Place bookstore caved in last week, who would have known that the roof would come crashing down on restaurateurs in the posh central market of Delhi? Last Friday, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) forbade any commercial activity on rooftops in Connaught Place, after a part of the C Block building collapsed. Reportedly, rooftop restaurants and commercial establishments in the area might lose their licenses, if the NDMC thinks it is necessary after their ongoing investigation in the incident.
However, this has left restaurant owners unhappy as their business has dipped, given that this is the season for rooftop parties and outdoor dining.
“Hospitality is one of the biggest sectors in our country. It generates so much revenue for the government, creates so many jobs and attracts so many tourists. This one move will affect so many people directly and even indirectly,” says Surjit Singh, owner of a restaurant in CP, “We have always cooperated with the government, and now we request the government to think of us, too.”
Winters are the perfect time to sit in the open and enjoy the weather. Why will anyone come to CP now, when they can enjoy rooftop views elsewhere? -Akshay Anand
In just a week, the move has severely affected the revenues of several businesses. Owners say that patrons now prefer other areas over Connaught Place. “There has already been a 30% drop in our businesses because of the move. This is the perfect time to sit in the open and enjoy the weather. Why will anyone come to CP now, when they can enjoy rooftop views elsewhere? Once this month gets over, who would want to sit on the roof in the heat,” laments Akshay Anand, Town House Café owner. “When we tell our guests that rooftop seating is closed, they cancel their bookings.”
Atul Kapur, the owner of QBA, wonders at the sensibility of the move. “How does locking down rooftops help anyone? God forbid, if there’s a metro accident some day, will they discontinue the metro services, too?” he questions. “Not only are we losing revenues, the government, too, is incurring losses. We should all work towards a better solution.”
These are the only few months when we get to party in the open space, so why would we want to miss that? -Shweta Sachdeva
The party-goers of the city echo similar thoughts. Shweta Sachdeva, a banker, says her gang of friends prefers Hauz Khas over Connaught Place now. “These are the only few months when we get to party in the open space, so why would we want to miss that? Since CP doesn’t give us that privilege anymore, we have decided to make Hauz Khas Village our party hub,” she adds.
NDMC however remains tight-lipped on the matter. “A technical panel is looking into the matter. They’re going to assess what exactly caused the building to cave in and only then we will be able to say anything further,” says the spokesperson, NDMC.