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Chandigarh traders question ban on commercial use of basements

Traders are accusing the administration of following a pick-and-choose policy, as the notification is not applicable on those who had already sought permission from the administration after paying Rs 300 per square feet.

punjab Updated: Aug 14, 2017 14:10 IST
Hillary Victor
Hillary Victor
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
basements,Chandigarh,Chandigarh traders
Besides many shops working from basements in Sector 22, all commercial buildings in Sectors 17, 34, 35 and 43 have basements in Chandigarh.(Karun Sharma//HT)

The Chandigarh’s administration’s decision to ban commercial use of basements for purposes other than as godown has not gone down well with around 200 traders in the city who had filed fresh applications after getting no-objection certificates (NOCs) from various departments.

In its notification on August 10, the UT has stated that in view of fire hazards and with an aim to reduce disaster risk, habitable (commercial) use of basements in all categories has been withdrawn.

Traders are accusing the administration of following a pick-and-choose policy, as the notification is not applicable on those who had already sought permission from the administration after paying Rs 300 per square feet.

Allowed use sans permit in 2012

At present, all commercial building in Sectors 17, 34, 35 and 43 have basements.

In fact, those in Sectors 17, 34 and 43 are mandated to construct basements. In 2012, the UT even paved way for traders to use basements for commercial purposes without taking permission from the authorities concerned. They just had to comply with the rules, which included height of more than nine feet, at least two staircases and proper ventilation or central air-conditioning.

The sudden change in policy has the traders at their wits’ end.

“The UT’s decision is totally unjustified,” said Vinod Joshi, chairman of the building bylaws committee of Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM). “Nearly 200 traders have already applied for permission (to use basements) after obtaining NOCs from various departments. They are being harassed for no fault of theirs.”

Chandigarh Business Council president Baldev Goel said the decision will adversely affect both the owners of shop-cum-offices (SCOs) and their tenants.

“While the administration has not paid any heed to their demand for additional floors, it has now started withdrawing the existing facilities,” said Goel. “The existing provision should be allowed to continue in view of paucity of commercial space.”

Meanwhile, the UT administration is sticking to its stand.

“We are implementing the bylaws finalised by the UT architect department,” said UT assistant estate officer Manoj Khatri. “The decision has been taken in wake of increasing fire incidents in the city, especially in basements of commercial buildings. Moreover, basements are meant for use as godowns only.”

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 14:10 IST