Millennium Post

Sealing drive begins in Khan Market

New DELHI: The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) started sealing parts of commercial establishments in Delhi's upscale Khan market on Monday for allegedly flouting civic norms.
Before the team arrived in the market on Monday afternoon, many shops were shut fearing action.
"What is our violation? We have paid the conversion charges and are still facing harassment," said the owner of a shop where a portion had been sealed. At least four commercial spaces, including the balcony of two saloons, have been sealed so far, though officials said "only extra spaces that are not permitted" have been sealed.
According to sources, upmarket salons like Affinity, Geetanjali and Habib's, Aayna skin clinic, and popular eateries like Khan Chacha, Smokey's BBQ & Grill, Starbucks and Amrapali Jewellery store were partially sealed.
Before the sealing team arrived, members of the SC-appointed committee inspected the area for violations. The committee comprises former advisor to the Election Commission, KJ Rao, chairman of Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA), Bhure Lal, and Major General (retd) Som Jhingan as members.
After directions from the panel, civic authorities had last month sealed the first and higher floors of 51 shops and restaurants in south Delhi's posh Defence Colony market for not paying 'use conversion charges' to the municipality.
The president of Khan market association, Sanjeev Mehra, objected to the drive. "To the best of my knowledge, all 42 residential flats were converted and allowed to operate a commercial activity. Now, to turn around and say that they are doing the business illegally is unjustified and unwarranted because the NDMC themselves allowed the conversion after receiving the payments," Mehra said.
The top court while reviving the committee's sealing powers, last month, had observed, "the blatant misuse of properties in Delhi for commercial purposes on such a large scale could not take place without the connivance of the officers."
The Delhi Development Authority had last week revised the 'use conversion charges' from Rs 89,000 per sqm to Rs 22,700 per sqm. According to the master plan, traders using the property for mixed purposes have to pay one-time conversion charge at the rate notified by the government.
Many properties in the Delhi's upscale market are used for dual purposes, with a shopping outlet on the ground floor and an eatery on the first and second floors. According to the master plan, this warrants for 'use conversion charges'.
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