Sealing 2.0: 35 basements sealed in Delhi’s Defence Colony market

On December 22, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation sealed 51 units for using residential properties for commercial purposes without paying the ‘use conversion’ charges.

delhi Updated: Jan 16, 2018 23:38 IST
Vibha Sharma
Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Defence Colony,south Delhi,Delhi sealing
Sealing in Defence Colony area in New Delhi on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

Shops and godowns operating from basements were sealed in south Delhi’s Defence Colony market Tuesday, leading to protests from shop owners and bringing one of Delhi’s most popular commercial hubs to a halt.

This was the second sealing drive in the market in 25 days, following the reconstitution by the Supreme Court of a monitoring committee that aims to curb violations at markets across the city.

On Tuesday, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation sealed 35 basements on the direction of the SC panel. These basements were used for running shops and restaurants or as godowns by shop owners, which the committee said was unauthorised.

On December 22, when the SDMC sealed 51 units for using residential properties for commercial purposes without paying the “use conversion” charges, it had largely concentrated on floors above the ground level. The “use conversion charge” is a fee paid by property owners who deviate from the zonal plan and change the use of their premises from residential to commercial.

However, on Tuesday, there was no clarity on the reason behind the sealing of basements. While the SDMC officials maintained that the shops were sealed for non-payment of reduced “use conversion” charges at ₹22,274 per square metre, the monitoring committee members gave a different reason. “The basements in Defence Colony market should be used for residential purposes only. But traders are using them for commercial activities, which is illegal and can’t be allowed even if they pay ‘use conversion charge’,” said a monitoring committee member, who asked not to be named.

According to an official, the civic agency plans to target shops in Greater Kailash I on Wednesday. The shops and eateries that were sealed in Defence Colony market included portions of Moet’s restaurant, Teksons bookstore, Bansal stationery, Puma shoe store, Batra tent house and Chique clothing store. Basements of an upcoming store, Marque Retail, and two other vacant sites were also sealed.

The civic body could start sealing only at 3 pm because of a delay in getting adequate police personnel to enforce the drive. Shop owners congregated in large numbers in the market and started shouting slogans against monitoring committee members, SDMC and Delhi Police. An additional force from the CRPF was deployed at around 5.30 pm.

“We had shown all the documents to SDMC officials, including the regularised building plan, payment slip for additional floor area ratio, one-time parking charge and use conversion charge (paid at old rates of ₹6,136 per square metre). We even promised to pay the balance ‘use conversion charges’ at the revised rate (₹22,274 per square metre) but officials were not ready to hear us,” said Nimit Bansal, owner of Bansal Stationary.

Two weeks ago, DDA reduced the charges from ₹89,090 per square metre to ₹22,274 per square metre for 80 local markets falling in categories A-D categories (as per circle rates notified by the Delhi government).

First Published: Jan 16, 2018 23:38 IST