Pune restaurants served closure notices claim Cantonment Board is cooking up unfair practices
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Pune restaurants served closure notices claim Cantonment Board is cooking up unfair practices

The traders maintained that when the licences were issued to them and taxes on a commercial basis were being paid regularly, nobody objected to their status.

pune Updated: Feb 07, 2018 14:53 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Cafe Diamond Queen is one of the restaurants in Pune Cantonment to be served a closure notice by the PCB.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

A day after Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) decided to serve closure notices to 12 prominent restaurants from the Camp area, restaurant owners held a meeting on Tuesday afternoon following which they said they are being deliberately targeted.

The traders maintained that when the licences were issued to them and taxes on a commercial basis were being paid regularly, nobody objected to their status.

They issued a statement saying that more than 800 families will be hit hard by the PCB decision to close down the restaurants and that there was room for a change of use for space, which PCB must consider.

Adv Netraprakash Bhog, Cantonment activist said, “The action against these 12 establishments is unfair and they must be given an opportunity to be heard. Their business is legitimate and they must be given trade licences which is their fundamental right. Illegal food stalls are multiplying near Saifee lane backed by an elected member.

“The nexus between elected members and illegal occupants of Cantonment public lands must be investigated first. Unfair targeting of reputed establishments must not be done as they bring name, fame and reputation for PCB and also revenue in the form of taxes.

“Right under the PCB nose the menace of illegal food stalls is functioning in the market and the board is not doing anything about it. Hawkers are mushrooming on Cantonment footpaths outside the old Cantonment office. Is the PCB sleeping about these illegal activities? People cannot use the footpath because they are dirty and are prone to accidents”, Bhog added

The PCB has decided to crack its whip on alleged cases of land misuse in civilian and bungalow areas of the Pune Cantonment and a general body (GB) resolution backed by all the elected members of the Cantonment was passed on Monday.

PCB CEO DN Yadav said that business closure notices will be slapped against 12 restaurants as they had been found violating Cantonment rules by converting old grant residential land into commercial properties.

The Cantonment board administration took the decision to act first on 12 prominent restaurants-cum-eateries in the area after the defence estates officer (DEO), Pune circle, submitted a detailed report to the PCB.

Meanwhile, the 12 restaurant owners have called the move as being the selective targeting of the establishments.

The DEO has recommended no renewal of trade licences to these eateries.

Yadav said, “The legal notice for closing down the business of these establishments will be sent soon and they will be given only 15 days after which final action will be taken in accordance with the Cantonment by-laws.

“The 12 establishments are illegally running in cantonment area and they don’t have any rights to carry out business any further. The establishments don’t have any trade licence and are operating illegally,” he reiterated.

Box: Systemic reform in management of defence lands

Defence establishment is the custodian a very large land bank in Pune Cantonment and there is very little public information on the larger picture of Army land and the overall importance of these assets which is of substantial value. To prevent defence lands from further erosion, activists have been seeking systemic reforms in the management of defence lands, a comprehensive audit and resumption of the lands under commercial exploitation or unauthorised use of private parties.

Box: Restaurant leases to expire by the end of 2018

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) in its order dated March 10, 2017, had extended the leases of residents and business owners with expired, or about-to-expire leases, to the end of 2018. The order has extended the leases till December 31, 2018, for properties located inside and outside of notified civil areas in Cantonments across India. The extension has quite a number of riders attached to it. Crucial relief has been granted to expired leaseholders who may have changed the nature of the property — residential to commercial or vice versa from the original purpose for which the lease was granted. The PCB is one of the largest beneficiaries of the order, with as many as 146 properties both commercial and residential, and overwhelmingly in the civil areas, that are under the benefitting category.

Box: Establishments have been running their businesses illegally since 2006

The closure of the three prominent establishments comprising of Kayani Bakery, Kwality and Bagban restaurants was ordered by the Sub-Area commander and Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) president Brigadier Rajiv Sethi after he conducted a joint inspection with PCB and Defence Estates Office (DEO) officials. The board administration stated that establishments had not applied for a change of purpose to commercially run the premises and have been running their businesses illegally since 2006. The board president had ordered them to close down for violating the lease agreement

First Published: Feb 07, 2018 14:37 IST