Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Makan and dukan

Notification issued on makan, dukan

Rajesh Kumar/ New Delhi

Riding roughshod over the citywide protests against mixed land use, the Ministry of Urban Development on Tuesday night issued a notification regularising illegally run commercial establishments in residential areas. This means that shops, offices on ground floor, banquet halls in residential areas get a free run as do establishments like pre-nursery/Montessori schools, nursing homes, guesthouses, banks and fitness centres.

The notification comes in the wake of a Supreme Court order directing sealing of commercial complexes running in residential areas in violation of provisions of the Master Plan for Delhi 2001. Ever since the Supreme Court order came, the Government has been under tremendous pressure from trading and business groups. To bring in such a law makes the apex court's order infructuous.

The first indication of the Government's move came when the DDA last week passed a resolution proposing mixed land use in residential areas. The matter comes up for hearing before the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning and it would be worthwhile to watch the court's reaction to the Government's move.

Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken told media persons on Tuesday night that he was confident that the notification would meet the legal benchmark. However, residents pointed out that the current notification modifies MPD 2001 which expired five years back. "Since, the last MPD expired, the new Master Plan is yet to be born. The Government notification is beyond legal arguments and catering only to political interests," said Jagdev, a member of the Bar Council of India.

Residents also questioned the haste with which the notification was issued even as a high-powered committee headed by former Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna was expected to submit its report in the matter. However, Mr Maken has

denied the reports that the high-powered committee was not consulted before the notification.

According to him, four lakh small traders would benefit from the mixed land use amendment. The new policy would legalise commercial activities on the ground floor of residential premises on 118 roads in the Capital.

Mr Maken maintained: "The notification is aimed at helping small shopkeepers or violators as the Supreme Court has also directed that major and minor violators should be segregated. The decision has been taken in that spirit. We are not legalising big violations and this notification does not give blanket permission for big commercial activities running in residential premises."

The notification said: "Mixed use streets would be identified based on traffic and parking studies. On the basis of identification of mixed land use streets in zonal or local plans, mixed use may be permitted on the ground floor in residential plots facing streets and roads of minimum 60 feet. Right of Way in regular residential plotted development, 13.5 metres in resettlement colonies and nine metres in special areas and villages. No encroachment shall be permitted on the streets. The plot measuring 100 square metres would have to provide parking for at least two cars. "Where this is not available, cost of development of parking would be charged and that money would be utilised for developing new multi-storey parking. Mixed use shall be subject to payment of conversion charges.

A copy of the notification has already been circulated to the civic agencies. Congress MLAs Jile Singh Chauhan and Mahabal Mishra, both members of the DDA were also present when Mr Maken announced the notification.


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