The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) once again reached Defence Colony market on Tuesday and sealed the basements of around 50 shops for alleged misuse of property. During its last visit, the civic body had sealed the first floors of shops and eateries that had allegedly not paid conversion fees.
“As per the provisions of the master plan, all kinds of businesses cannot be run inside basements. It can only be used to store goods, run offices, consultancy, etc,” Leader of the House in South Corporation Shikha Rai said. She added that these basements flout safety rules as they do not have firefighting equipment or adequate lighting.
The establishments where the basements were sealed include popular restaurants, shops and cafes, including Moets, MB’s and Swagath, Rajender Malik, president of the Defence Colony Traders’ Association, said.
The sealing drive is being conducted on the directions of the Supreme Court-appointed Monitoring Committee to check “illegal” construction in the city.
Terming the exercise as “ruthless” and selective targeting of Defence Colony, Malik said, “They just see this market. The whole of Delhi has illegal basements but they have never taken action against them. In less than a month, they have come here twice.” This is the second time the sealing drive has been undertaken at the market. Earlier, on December 22, over 50 commercial units were sealed for “not depositing” conversion charges as per provisions in the city’s Master Plan, 2021.
Malik claimed that the traders even tried to reach out to members of the monitoring committee to ask what they can do to avoid sealing, but they were not ready to listen. An official confirmed that the Building Department of the Central Zone of the civic body had sealed the basements amid police presence, despite minor resistance from traders.
Action is also being taken against commercial properties for encroachment or illegal constructions. On January 5, 56 establishments in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj were sealed.