The majority of Delhi’s markets will be spared sealing and demolition. The Urban Development Ministry on Thursday notified changes in the existing Master Plan, paving the way for these markets to be declared commercial areas and saving them from closure.
Markets in South Extension, Green Park, Rajouri Garden, Vikas Marg, Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk were to face sealing and demolition drives from September 16. The government had been under pressure from traders to rescue them from the action - executed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Supreme Court orders.
It is for the MCD now to identify and notify the commercial stretches based on the Master Plan amendments.
Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy confirmed the notification. "The majority of affected traders in the city will get relief now," he said. Reddy said the amendments were in keeping with the recommendations of the Tejendra Khanna Committee report, submitted in May this year.
The committee had recommended 'rationalisation' of mixed-land use policy and regularisation of unauthorised constructions up to a certain limit subject to payment of penalties.
Reddy said the Master Plan amendments have been carried out keeping in view the ground reality and the fact that the Delhi Development Authority has not been able to meet the huge requirement for commercial space in the city.
According to the notification, if commercial stretches in colonies abut Master Plan roads or the Ring Road or if any area has 70 per cent or more commercial establishments, such areas will be declared commercial.
The relief will, however, not reach inner-lane shops in 80 posh residential colonies (like Green Park, Panchsheel and Greater Kailash), where the Residents' Welfare Associations had been vocal about not allowing commercial activities. These shops will be compulsorily closed down.
But professionals like chartered accountants, lawyers, doctors and architects will be allowed to keep offices, provided they run it from their own premises. Banks and fitness centres will continue in these areas but no new ones can be started. Pre-primary schools, guest houses and nursing homes will be permitted in posh colonies as they are treated as public and semi-public facilities.
On whether the changes in the Master Plan would again lead to confrontation with the Supreme Court, an official of the ministry said the Tejendra Khanna Committee's recommendations had been submitted in the court and the court had not raised objections. It was, however, not clear whether the MCD sealing squads would follow the notification or the directions from the court's monitoring committee.