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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Sealing fallout: Business slow, Defence colony traders mull legal recourse

On Saturday, shop owners at the south Delhi market said their business was “down” as fewer people visited the place

delhi Updated: Dec 23, 2017 22:53 IST
Sweta Goswami and Vibha Sharma
Sweta Goswami and Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times
Sealed shops at the Defence Colony Market in New Delhi on Friday.
Sealed shops at the Defence Colony Market in New Delhi on Friday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

The sealing drive carried out by a Supreme Court-appointed panel at Defence Colony Market days before Christmas has led to a slowdown in business.

On Saturday, shop owners at the south Delhi market said their business was “down” as fewer people visited the place.

Many of those who did come also couldn’t find seating space due to lack of space as the upper storeys of a number of restaurants and cafes remained sealed.

Friday’s sealing drive, carried out at 51 outlets by the SC-appointed panel along with south Delhi civic body officials, also united shop owners for deciding their legal recourse

“The high court has exempted South Extension Part II market from any sealing activity. We are going to give that as an example in court. In our case, the standard rulebook was not followed,” said Mahip Datta Parashar, a lawyer who is helping the Defence Colony Market Association in the case.

South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) officials, however, said the shopkeepers were not likely to get any relief as the Supreme Court in its order on December 15 tasked its monitoring committee to take up such cases.

Citing the Apex court order, a municipal official said, “Shopkeepers who have approached any statutory appellate tribunal after their premises were sealed can approach the SC-appointed monitoring committee for relief. But the rider here is that before they seek relief they will have to withdraw their appeal apart from paying Rs 1 lakh and conversion charges.”

For those who simply want to get their premises de-sealed, the owners will have to approach the committee for relief after depositing Rs 1 lakh. “This would be in addition to payment of conversion charges to MCD and providing all documents as a proof that the construction activity has been done as per building bylaws,” another SDMC official said.

Rajinder Mallik, president of the market association, said that the group is now collecting money from shop owners to fight the legal battle on behalf of all aggrieved parties.

“This market was declared a local shopping area in the 2021 Master Plan of Delhi. The officials arbitrarily went on sealing different floors of the outlets without even asking for documents or proof which many of us had. Some had already paid the conversion charge,” Malik said.

The SDMC too said that there might be few shopkeepers who have paid conversion charges, but added that the amount was not as per the rates specified in the Master Plan.

Till 2012, shopkeepers were supposed to pay Rs 6,136 per square metre (maximum amount in market under A category) as coversion charges for converting residential property into commercial use in local shopping complexes.

“But in 2012, the Delhi Development Authority came out with a notification to increase the rates to Rs 89,000 per sq metre. The move was opposed by people and they submitted a proposal with DDA which was approved in authority’s meeting as well, in 2015. But it has not been notified so far,” said the official. “The shopkeepers requested us to wait for the final decision and that’s why we also didn’t initiate the drive.”

Local MLA Madan Lal also met with the shopkeepers and said he would take them to meet the SDMC commissioner on Tuesday.

First Published: Dec 23, 2017 22:53 IST