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Restaurant owners cry foul as NDMC opens its outdoor cafe in Delhi’s Connaught Place

On Friday, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) inaugurated its new open-air cafe on the Palika Bazaar rooftop. Restaurant owners in Connaught Place say NDMC is violating its own rule against rooftop establishments in the area.

delhi Updated: Jul 08, 2017 10:07 IST
Aditya Dogra
Aditya Dogra
Hindustan Times
Restaurants,NDMC,New Delhi Municipal Council
The rooftop sections of several restaurants in CP were shut down after a cave-in incident in February.(Gurinder Osan/HT PHOTO)

Back in February, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) conducted strict checks across the Connaught Place circle after a cave-in incident in C Block. Their inspection, focusing on the structural stability of heritage buildings, resulted in the shut down of rooftop portions of 25 restaurants.

Workers clearing the debris of the portion that collapsed, in C block of Connaught Place. ( Zuhaib Mohammad/ HT Photo )

A few months on, NDMC has opened its own open air cafe in CP’s Palika Bazaar, and restaurateurs feel cheated. “In a recent meeting, attended by the NDMC chairperson and other high-ranking officials, they told us they can’t allow open air and rooftop restaurants. On enquiring about their plans for the NDMC cafe, I was told that it was cancelled, but a few days later, their chairman inaugurated the cafe,” says Priyank Sukhija, six of whose restaurants stand affected by the ban, despite submission of the required structural stability certificates.

“NDMC’s PSOI club in Nehru Park is outdoors; it hosts fests, parties, fests and what not. Then why stop us? As far as the rules go, there should be equality for all, and if that isn’t respected, I’m willing to take them to court,” he adds.

Restaurateur Umang Tewari agrees. “Rules should be equal for all; this is hypocrisy. If they (NDMC) can open their own cafe against the very rules, then we should be allowed too. Our [outdoor] areas are anyway not on the roof, but in balconies next to our joints. I think a common policy should be made and all should follow it,” he says.

Restaurateur Atul Kapur also calls the move an “unfair practice”. Although he wishes success for NDMC’s cafe, he adds that if need be, he will, with the support of others, file a PIL to get the issue resolved. “You cannot have different strokes for different folks. I ran Q’BA (now The Flying Saucer) for 14 years. Many other restaurants in the area have existed in heritage buildings for the longest time... In that case, a rule like this should’ve been implemented long ago... We pay taxes (even for the rooftops) so this is an unfair practice. They (NDMC) fail to notice that such rules affect revenues and wages,too.”

On contacting NDMC, an official, wishing not to be named, said, “The cafe is not on the rooftop of a heritage building... We don’t set rules that we do not comply with.” Despite multiple attempts, Naresh Kumar, chairman, NDMC, was unavailable for comment.

First Published: May 22, 2017 19:17 IST