Govt moves to end seal­ing cri­sis at key Delhi mar­kets

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Front Page - Moushumi Das Gupta moushumi.gupta@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI : The Cen­tral govern­ment is ini­ti­at­ing an ef­fort in­volv­ing sev­eral agen­cies to defuse the po­lit­i­cal and com­mer­cial cri­sis caused by the seal­ing of sev­eral shops and res­tau­rants in Delhi.

On Tuesday evening, a high­level meet­ing chaired by Union hous­ing and ur­ban af­fairs min­is­ter Hardeep Singh Puri and at­tended by Delhi lieu­tenant gov­er­nor Anil Bai­jal, hous­ing sec­re­tary DS Mishra, three mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sion­ers, NDMC chief Naresh Ku­mar and DDA vice chair­man Udai Pratap Singh de­lib­er­ated over var­i­ous op­tions, in­clud­ing amend­ing Delhi’s Mas­ter Plan, in­creas­ing the amount of con­struc­tion al­lowed on a plot, and ac­cel­er­at­ing the con­ver­sion of land-use to end the cri­sis.

Puri said the govern­ment could an­nounce mea­sures to end the cri­sis in a few days but did not elab­o­rate fur­ther.

Ear­lier on Tuesday, as he took a round of mar­kets to reaf­firm his sol­i­dar­ity with store- and restau­rant own­ers and traders, Delhi chief min­is­ter Arvind Kejriwal blamed the BJP-led cen­tral govern­ment for the cri­sis.

He said his govern­ment would move the Supreme Court this week to get a tem­po­rary stay on the seal­ing drive.

The union govern­ment’s move could ob­vi­ate the need for that

“One of the op­tions that we are con­sid­er­ing is whether the Mas­ter Plan can be amended to in­clude more road stretches where com­mer­cial and mixed land use can be per­mit­ted,” said a se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cial who did not want to be iden­ti­fied.

Un­der Delhi’s Mas­ter Plan 2021, there are 2183 road stretches where com­mer­cial and mixed­land use is per­mit­ted.

The seal­ing is cur­rently hap­pen­ing in ar­eas where this is not per­mit­ted or where there have been other vi­o­la­tions (such as build­ing an ex­tra floor or the use of a bal­cony)

A sec­ond govern­ment of­fi­cial who did not want to be named said that as of now, no de­ci­sion has been taken on in­creas­ing the num­ber of road stretches where com­mer­cial and mixed land use can be per­mit­ted. Delhi’s three mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions are push­ing for in­clud­ing 351 more road stretches un­der this cat­e­gory.

The union govern­ment is also ex­plor­ing re­duc­ing the penalty for com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments in res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

As of now the penalty im­posed on such prop­er­ties is quite steep. DDA levies ten times the an­nual con­ver­sion charge for al­low­ing mixed use in res­i­den­tial ar­eas. This process usu­ally takes 30 days. “The ques­tion is, con­sid­er­ing the ur­gency, can we waive that 30-day no­tice pe­riod for invit­ing ob­jec­tions and sug­ges­tions be­fore such a con­ver­sion is al­lowed?” asked a third govern­ment of­fi­cial who asked not to be named.

The third op­tion that the Union hous­ing and ur­ban af­fairs min­istry – un­der which DDA comes – is mulling is al­low­ing a higher Floor Area Ra­tio (FAR) for prop­er­ties in com­mer­cial ar­eas that have lower FAR. Depending on the size of the plot, the max­i­mum FAR al­lowed in com­mer­cial ar­eas as of now is 150%. One can con­struct a max­i­mum of three floors with this FAR.

Still, this is eas­ier said than done, said an ex­pert.

“It’s a com­pli­cated process. FAR can be in­creased only when the en­tire shop­ping com­plex comes to­gether, sub­mits a re­de­vel­op­ment plan and gets it ap­proved. It will also re­quire in­di­vid­ual prop­er­ties whose FAR will be in­creased to pay a high amount as con­ges­tion and de­vel­op­ment charge,” said AK Jain, for­mer DDA plan­ning com­mis­sioner.

The op­tions be­ing con­sid­ered by the Cen­tre may not find favour with the Supreme Court which is presently hear­ing the mat­ter. The Union Hous­ing and Ur­ban Af­fairs min­istry will have to make its stand clear be­fore the apex court on Fe­bru­ary 7.

On Jan­uary 15, au­thor­i­ties came un­der flak from the apex court for al­low­ing illegal con­struc­tions to mush­room in the Cap­i­tal. “…. Un­for­tu­nately for some rea­sons which does not ap­pear to be bona fide, the statu­tory au­thor­i­ties have not per­formed their statu­tory obli­ga­tions re­sult­ing in com­plete break­down of the rule of law in Delhi in re­spect of en­croach­ments, unau­tho­rized con­struc­tions, mis­use of res­i­den­tial premises, etc. etc,” the apex court ob­served.

HT PHOTO

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (right) at a gath­er­ing of AAP and BJP lead­ers, to dis­cuss seal­ing, that ended in ac­ri­mony.

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