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Thursday, January 21, 2021

SC panel claims Defence Colony market traders, MCD officials ‘conniving’ to flout norms

On November 26 last year, the Supreme Court had allowed an application from the Defence Colony Market Welfare Association for impleadment, giving it an opportunity to argue its position in the cases related to sealing of commercial establishments in Delhi.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi | January 12, 2021 2:59:18 am
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Many of its shops fully or partially sealed over the last three years over “misuse” of space, there is no resolution in sight for the upscale Defence Colony market, with the Supreme Court monitoring committee alleging in a fresh report that the traders are violating norms in “connivance” with civic officials.

A federation representing the local shopping centres (LSCs), which includes the Defence Colony market, disputed the charge levelled by the committee, saying the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has already made it clear that shopping centres falling in commercial zones can operate freely.

The panel, however, says the area is designated as “shop-cum-residential”— meaning there can be shops on the ground floor and residential units on the upper floor. It also stresses that upper floors can be used commercially only after paying one-time conversion charges to the MCD.

But the market association insists that conversion charges are not applicable to LSCs as per a resolution passed by the South MCD. There are 56 commercial shopping centres in South Delhi with hundreds of shops.

On November 26 last year, the Supreme Court had allowed an application from the Defence Colony Market Welfare Association for impleadment, giving it an opportunity to argue its position in the cases related to sealing of commercial establishments in Delhi. Sealing drives at the Defence Colony market were carried out on December 22, 2017, and January 16, 2018, for “misuse and unauthorised construction”.

While the association requested that shops be de-sealed, the SC directed the monitoring committee and MCD to respond within two weeks. On December 11, the committee filed a report, countering the association.

“It is amply clear that members of the applicant association (Defence Colony Market Association) are violating laws… with impunity in connivance with officials of local body, who had taken no steps all these years against the misuse as well as unauthorised construction carried out in contravention of the Delhi Municipal Act, Urban Body Bye Laws and the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 causing huge revenue loss to the corporation exchequer.

“As such, each member of the association is liable to pay the penalty and get their property regularised after removing the deviations… The applicant association is not entitled to any relief as they are adamant to use the impugned premises in violation of laws and MPD,” the committee said.

SDMC had also issued notices to a few traders recently for not paying conversion charges.

LSC Federation president Rajesh Goyal told The Indian Express that the committee’s arguments go against norms laid down by the DDA: “The committee should act against encroachments on public land. In case of LSCs, DDA has made it clear that we need not pay any conversion charges…”

Set up in 2006, the panel comprises chairman of the erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority Bhure Lal, former advisor to the Election Commissioner K J Rao, and Major General (Retd) S P Jhingon.

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