Meharchand Market to soon be redeveloped with ‘uniform look’
The market -- originally set up to settle refugees from Pakistan after Partition and named after Mehr Chand Khanna, who was Union minister of rehabilitation in the 1950s -- will be redeveloped according to the Master Plan of Delhi 2021, with shops getting a floor area ratio (FAR ) of 350 compared to the present FAR of 150.Updated: Aug 11, 2020 23:34 IST
Delhi’s iconic Meharchand Market in Lodhi Colony -- once home to designer boutiques, restaurants and jewellery shops, and often touted as the next Khan Market -- will get a new lease of life as the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) on Tuesday cleared a proposal to redevelop the popular shopping hub that has been nearly lying shut since the 2018 sealing drive.
The market -- originally set up to settle refugees from Pakistan after Partition and named after Mehr Chand Khanna, who was Union minister of rehabilitation in the 1950s -- will be redeveloped according to the Master Plan of Delhi 2021, with shops getting a floor area ratio (FAR ) of 350 compared to the present FAR of 150.
Around 80% of shops of the market were shut during the 2018 sealing drive, one of the biggest in Delhi, for violation of building norms.
According to SDMC officials, the existing shops will be demolished and reconstructed by the traders themselves in accordance with sanctioned standard building plans.
A senior official of SDMC’s town planning department said the market will have a uniform look similar to Connaught Place with elements such as a public corridor, uniform billboards, etc. The corporation is also likely to make it a pedestrian-only market.
“It will be the traders’ responsibility to redevelop their shops as per a ‘standard plan’ prepared by the corporation’s architecture department. The plan provides norms for construction of the outer façade, display windows, columns, advertising boards, billboard, etc. This will provide a uniform look to the market. The front façade of all shops in the redeveloped market would be the same. The shops will follow a definite colour code pattern as suggested by the ‘standard plan’,” the official said requesting anonymity.
Raj Dutt Gahlot, chairman standing committee, said all the existing structures will be demolished and newly constructed. No time-frame has been set for the work to begin.
“Under the approved scheme, 90% ground coverage with 350 FAR has been accepted. The market may be declared as a pedestrian shopping street due to non-availability of parking facilities in the premises,” Gahlot said.
The market saw a major transformation in the last decade, becoming a popular destination for designer boutiques, restaurants, jewellery shops, salons and cafes.
But in January 2018, as many as 135 out of 152 shops were sealed by the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee for violating building norms and constructing beyond the permitted FAR of 150.
According to traders, in 1948, refugees from West Pakistan were given temporary wooden shops in the market. Later in 1963, they were allotted permanent concrete shops.
Municipal officials said these were single-storeyed shops with a verandah but over a period of time, many traders added extra floors.
Officials said local shopping complexes (LSCs) in Delhi such as Defence Colony, Green Park and Hauz Khas got some relief on June 21, 2018, when the Central government notified changes in MPD-2021 but confusion remained over Meharchand Market.
According to another official of SDMC’s town planning department, in November 2019, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) clarified that the MPD-2021 amendments can be applied to Meharchand Market, and so a FAR of 350 (as opposed to 150) can be provided to the shop owners.
“The decision to redevelop the market was taken after discussing the plan with traders. Before starting redevelopment work, they will have to deposit a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh with the monitoring committee for the illegal structures and raze them. We will start passing building plans for the market and traders will have to approach the SDMC’s building department to approve their building maps. Apart from collecting conversion charges, SDMC will get Rs 10 crore from the owners for approving the layout plan,” the official said.
The official quoted above said the development charges, augmentation fees and other charges will be recovered from plot owners by the engineering department.
Ashok Sakhuja, president of the Meharchand Market Traders Association, said it was a “welcome move” and would benefit traders a lot.
“Our market is almost dead since January 2018. We are ready to do anything to revive our market. With such a move, our shops will be de-sealed and we will be able to reconstruct them as per the standard plan. The market will be pedestrian-friendly and wear a uniform look,” he said.
Indrajeet Singh, who owns a tent house in the market, said traders survived the sealing as some had alternative businesses and others relied on savings. “At present our priority to bring back the market to life again so that our business can pick up. We will see if any problem arises out of the no-parking move,” Singh said.