Sealing in Delhi’s Defence Colony; Social, Moets, Aka Saka, 4S among eateries hit
Shops and restaurants that had extended businesses beyond ground floor were reportedly “sealed” in Defence Colony. Municipal officials were acting under the orders of a committee set up by SC to crack down on illegal constructions in Delhi.
New Delhi: Sealing of unauthorised commercial establishments returned in the national capital after a decade on Friday with municipal authorities shutting down more than 50 shops and restaurants in south Delhi’s posh Defence Colony market and Chattarpur.
The establishments operating “illegally” from residential premises that were sealed during the drive included popular joints such as Social, Moets, Aka Saka and 4S.
MCD sources privy to the exercise said the next sealing drive will be carried out on Tuesday in other prominent markets of the national capital such as South Extension, Green Park, Hauz Khas and Greater Kailash where commercial units, according to them, are also operating too violating building norms.
Acting on a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, officials of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said the ‘offending’ establishments had violated laws as mentioned in Master Plan 2021 by not depositing conversion charges. They said the owners had extended commercial activities beyond the ground floor.
“There are 51 commercial units in Defence Colony market and most of the commercial units at first and second floor had not deposited conversion charges,” said an SDMC official.
Earlier, the market was earmarked as shopping-cum-residential complex with ground floor meant for commercial activities and first floor and above for residential purposes. But after the Master Plan for Delhi 2021 was notified, this market was converted into local shopping centre for commercial purposes, a municipal official explained.
“The owners who wanted to run business establishments on the first and second floors too were mandated to pay one-time conversion charges worth R 89,000 per square metre. But none of them have paid the charges so far,” said an official who was part of the team that reached the market at 11 am Friday.
The last time a similar sealing drive was launched in Delhi by municipal authorities was after March 26, 2006 when the apex court had set up the panel to keep a tab on misuse of commercial premises. In 2012, however, SC had asked the panel to stop sealing premises. On December 15 this year, the top court again revived the committee comprising KJ Rao, former advisor to the Election Commission, Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) and Major General (retd) Som Jhingan while observing how “the hope, expectation and trust… reposed in the concerned officers seem to have been completely belied.”
Countering municipal corporation’s allegations on Friday, the shop owners at Defence Colony market said they had paid all charges and possessed documents as proof.
“I had paid around Rs 58 lakhs as conversion charges in 2006. Later, I paid mutation charges. I pay commercial taxes regularly. I have all documents. Despite that my restaurant was sealed,” said Hargurdev Singh who runs a restaurant Capri Italy on the second floor of a building in Defence Colony.
Municipal officials said that the offending establishments had been violating norms for last five years. The action, they said, comes now after the monitoring panel was revived by the top court. Recently, the Union cabinet approved the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (NCTD) (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill, once cleared by Parliament, will provide immunity of three more years, beyond December 31 deadline, to all properties that have unauthorised constructions including commercial establishments in residential areas.
“The exercise had nothing to do with immunity under the Special Provisions. That is for unauthorised-regularised and unauthorised-to-be-regularised colonies,” said an official