‘We need to re­build our houses’

HT Estates - - NEWS - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

Gau­tam Hooja, who once felt a surge of pride telling oth­ers that he lived in the res­i­den­tial area of Ben­gali Mar­ket, is a dis­ap­pointed man to­day. His rented ac­com­mo­da­tion is in a di­lap­i­dated con­di­tion, not fit to live in or to sell.

Sur­pris­ingly, about 70 other fam­i­lies in the area have sim­i­lar prob­lems. A no­ti­fi­ca­tion is­sued by the union ur­ban de­vel­op­ment min­istry in 2003 that made res­i­den­tial ar­eas such as Babar Road, Abul Fazal Road and Tansen Marg a part of the Lu­tyens’ Bun­ga­low Zone (LBZ) is the root cause of the prob­lem.

“The con­cept of LBZ was in­tro­duced in 1988 for the con­trolled de­vel­op­ment of ar­eas around the walled city and in­cluded ar­eas like Con­naught Place, Prithvi­raj Road, etc. Sev­eral re­stric­tions were im­posed on re­de­vel­op­ment with the ob­jec­tive of pre­serv­ing Delhi’s heri- tage. In 2003, when LBZ was mod­i­fied, Ben­gali Mar­ket and some of its sur­round­ing res­i­den­tial ar­eas were also added to it,” says Hooja. Ever since, house owners in the area have not been able to ac­quire per­mis­sions for new con­struc­tion plans. More than 70 sin­gle-storey houses have very old con­struc­tion plans dat­ing back to the 1930s and 40s and most of them are in a di­lap­i­dated state.

Home­own­ers ar­gue that it is hard to ac­com­mo­date their grow­ing fam­i­lies if they re­con­struct as per the old plans. They are, there­fore, forced to live on rent in some other colonies in Delhi while their houses in Ben­gali Mar­ket re­main with­out any oc­cu­pants.

“Po­ten­tial home­buy­ers are not will­ing to pay much be­cause they know that they can­not get new con­struc­tion maps ap­proved from the New Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion. Hence, sell­ing prop­erty is not a lu­cra­tive prospect here,” says a house owner.

Last year’s in­crease in cir- cle rates was yet an­other blow to the real es­tate mar­ket here. Con­se­quently, to­day the mar­ket price of a house in Ben­gali Mar­ket is lower than the cir­cle rate.

“The new cir­cle rate, which falls in the A cat­e­gory, is R6,45,000 per square me­tre. So, a house mea­sur­ing 225 sq m (280 sq yd) fetches only around R13 crore to R14 crore as per the mar­ket price while the same house costs R15.5 crore as per the cir­cle rate,” says a res­i­dent.

Res­i­dents, who have not been able to get their houses con­verted from lease­hold to free­hold, al­lege harassment by of­fi­cials of the land and de­vel­op­ment depart­ment of the ur­ban de­vel­op­ment min­istry. “Ini­tially all prop­er­ties here were lease­hold. The gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced the free­hold scheme in the year 2000. Around 150 out of 270 house owners got their con­ver­sion done within a few years of the launch of the scheme. But the oth­ers are still run­ning from pil­lar to post for do­ing the same,” says Praveen Gupta, one of the res­i­dents.

De­spite all th­ese is­sues, Ben­gali Mar­ket re­mains a much sought-af­ter real es­tate des­ti­na­tion ow­ing to its cen­tral lo­ca­tion and the pres­ence of cul­tural hubs such as Ka­mani Au­di­to­rium, Bharatiya Kala Ken­dra, Triveni Kala Sangam, Mandi House and Ravin­dra Bhawan.

Some of the pub­lic fig­ures who re­side here are BJP leader Vi­jay Goel, for­mer crick­eter Kapil Dev, for­mer RBI gover­nor Bi­mal Jalan and for­mer chief jus­tice of Ut­tark­hand VN Gupta. The pop­u­lar Ben­gali Mar­ket with 26 shops is a pop­u­lar hang­out for of­fice-go­ers in Con­naught Place, stu­dents of Mod­ern School, Lady Ir­win Col­lege, Mata Sun­dri Col­lege and Zakir Hu­sain Col­lege.

“This mar­ket is both a boon and bane for us. While it ful­fils all our needs, it causes traf­fic con­ges­tion. It also poses a se­cu­rity risk. There are no gates to se­cure the res­i­den­tial lanes,” says Gupta.

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