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Sealing drive in Delhi continues as civic body hits Khan Market

The balconies and terraces of four Khan Market stores — Affinity, Geetanjali, Jawed Habib and Aayna clinic — were closed by officials of the NDMC and the police, while four other establishments were given a warning.

delhi Updated: Jan 08, 2018 23:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Khan Market,Delhi,NDMC
People walk through Khan market, located in central New Delhi. (Raj k Raj/HT File Photo)

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) partially sealed shops in Delhi’s premium Khan Market on Monday for allegedly flouting municipal rules.

The balconies and terraces of four Khan Market stores — Affinity, Geetanjali, Jawed Habib and Aayna clinic — were closed by officials of the NDMC and the police. The inspection team issued warnings to four other establishments: Smokey’s BBQ and Grill, Khan Chacha, Big Chill Café and Wok in the Clouds.

The inspectors are looking for violations of the Master Plan Delhi 2021, a set of regulations and schemes issued by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). “We are inspecting door-to-door to check each of the establishments, and where there is any violation that particular portion is being sealed,” said a senior official in the NDMC architecture department.

On Monday, officials targeted shops using unauthorised outdoor spaces.

According to Vishal Sharma, the owner of Affinity, police sealed the door to his establishment’s terrace and said it could not be reopened without an affidavit.

Dilip, the manager of Khan Chacha, said the restaurant was directed to remove a flammable, climate-controlling synthetic sheet from the roof. “Our dining has been stopped in the outside portion for over a year. That might be the reason why we were spared.”

Sanjeev Mehra, president of the Khan Market Traders Association, said local establishments had 24 hours to conform with the DDA rules before being at least partially sealed.

Mehra expressed scepticism about the need for the raids. “To the best of my knowledge, all 42 residential flats were converted and allowed to operate a commercial activity,” he said. “Now, to turn around and say that they are doing the business illegally is unjustified and unwarranted because the NDMC themselves allowed the conversion after receiving the payments.”

Shop owners were fearful and confused. “What is our violation?” asked one proprietor of a partially-sealed store who requested anonymity. “We have paid the conversion charges and are still facing harassment.”

Before the inspection team arrived, members of an expert committee appointed by Supreme Court surveyed the area. The committee comprises KJ Rao, a former adviser to the Election Commission; Bhure Lal, the chairman of Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority; and the retired major general Som Jhingan.

One of the members of the committee confirmed that there will be another round of inspections on Tuesday.

The NDMC and other municipal bodies, the expert committee, and the DDA have been involved with other raids throughout the city. Some properties in the Delhi’s upscale markets are used for dual purposes, with a shopping outlet on the ground floor and an eatery on the first and second floors. According to government rules, such mixed arrangements call for ‘use conversion charges’.

In December, the committee directed civic authorities to seal the first floors and all higher floors of 51 shops and restaurants in the Defence Colony market for failing to pay the charges. Last week, the DDA encouraged shopkeepers to pay up by reducing the fees from Rs 89,000 per square metre to Rs 22,700 per square metre.

“(Yet) the owners are not paying the charges even after being reduced,” said one of the members of the expert committee in justifying the need for more raids.

First Published: Jan 08, 2018 23:20 IST