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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Gym owners cry foul after SC panel orders closure by October 18

Owers say they are being discriminated against, will approach SC to seek relief from sealing.

delhi Updated: Sep 29, 2019 13:58 IST
Ashish Mishra
Ashish Mishra
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gym owners expressed  anguish over the “high-handedness” of the authorities,
Gym owners expressed anguish over the “high-handedness” of the authorities, (HT Photo/ Parveen Kumar)
         

A day after the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee ordered sealing of all fitness centres, including gyms, yoga and meditation, which opened after August 12, 2008, owners of these centres have decided to approach the court on Monday to seek relief.

These owners say that the move will not only affect the livelihood of thousands of people, but also hamper Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Fit India’ movement.

Expressing his anguish over the “high-handedness” of the authorities in dealing with the issue, Chirag Sethi, a member of Delhi Gym Association, termed the move as “dictatorial”.

“We are neither polluting nor creating traffic jams. Then why we are being targeted? We will legally challenge monitoring committee’s directive to seal gyms. We will approach the Supreme Court on Monday to seek relief from sealing,” Sethi said.

The committee’s directions pointed to violation of rules as enumerated under the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 (MPD) that allowed fitness centres to be opened only in malls and commercial plots owned by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). In its September 24 order, the panel wanted those fitness centres opened after August 12, 2008 and found violating these rules to be sealed by October 18.

“But when restaurants and pubs are allowed to function from plots under the mixed land use category, why single out gyms?” Sethi said. “Irony of the situation is that on one hand Prime Minister is advocating about doing exercise and remain healthy and fit, the authorities are trying to shut the gyms and yoga centres. It is an injustice to the fitness industry.”

Dronacharya awardee Bhupender Dhawan, who runs a fitness centre in Delhi, said, “The monitoring committee’s order will result in closure of a majority of gyms and fitness centres in Delhi. In 2007, we had faced a similar problem and the master plan was amended to provide relief. The government should find a solution to this problem. This order will defeat the PM’s call for a ‘fit India’.”

Vikas Jain, managing director of fitness chain Anytime Fitness, said that not everyone could afford to go to gyms in malls, so action against those located in other areas was “not fair”. He said that people also prefer gyms located close to their residence.

“Going to the gym and exercising is no more a luxury. It is a necessity. On one hand the PM is advocating the idea of being fit and healthy while on the other the authorities are trying to shut the fitness centres.” Jain said.

Puneet Singh Nindra, another fitness centre owner said, “At present, there is no policy for fitness centre.”

The Chambers of Trade and Industry (CTI) has also come in support of the gym and yoga centre owners and requested union minister Hardeep Singh Puri to amend the master plan and shift the cut-off date so that sealing could be stopped. Brijesh Goyal, CTI national convener, said, “Most gyms in Delhi were built after 2008. We requested Puri to shift the cut-off date to September 2019, as done in the case of restaurants, to stop sealing.

First Published: Sep 29, 2019 13:58 IST

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