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Why This Area in Delhi is 'Safe' From the Sealing Threat

One hundred and forty three local shopping centers (LSCs) in the national capital face another round of sealing by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com

Updated:May 5, 2018, 12:30 PM IST
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Why This Area in Delhi is 'Safe' From the Sealing Threat
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New Delhi: One hundred and forty three local shopping centers (LSCs) in the national capital face another round of sealing by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

According to an order by the Supreme Court appointed monitoring committee, all shops in violation of the ‘standard plan’ will be sealed. But there is one area in Delhi which may end up more or less escaping the impending sealing drive – Rajouri Garden.

A local shopping center or LSC is a designated shopping complex within a residential area, meant to cater to the needs of the local community living in and around the area. The Greater Kailash M-Block Market, Kailash Colony Market and Amar Colony Market are all examples of LSCs.

These may have started out as neighbourhood markets, where shops were allotted to partition refugees to get those families a steady income stream, but as Delhi’s population has boomed over the last seven decades, these LSCs have become full-blown commercial hubs. While the shopping centers have evolved, the rules have not.

“The monitoring committee has decided that the ‘Shops cum residential Complexes’ designated as Local Shopping Centers falling under jurisdiction of NDMC, SDMC, EDMC and New Delhi Municipal Council, which are in violation of the Standard Plan/Sanctioned Building Plan, be sealed immediately,” part of the monitoring committee’s order read.

A ‘standard plan’ is a blueprint or an outline that the Municipal Corporation is supposed to make and revise periodically and all LSCs are supposed to function under those guidelines. According to Greater Kailash MLA and Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj, the blame lies squarely with the MCD.

“The MCD is tasked with coming up with local or zonal development plans or ‘Standard Plans’ to govern Local Shopping Centers. The current standard plan has not been revised in decades. It was supposed to be done whenever a new Master Plan was being framed, but the MCD has ignored the needs of traders in Delhi for decades,” he said.

The operative part of the standard plan, which is leading to the current sealing drive, is ‘Floor Area Ratio’ or FAR. The old standard plan allows for an FAR of 180 or, in other words, construction of two and a half floor. But there’s a reason the old plan doesn’t apply to Rajouri Garden – because Rajouri Garden has a standard plan of its own.

In 2015, the MCD passed a new standard plan, but instead of making one that would be applicable to all of Delhi, the plan only addressed the needs of traders in Rajouri Garden. Instead of 180, like in the old plan, the new plan provided for a FAR of 300, which meant shopkeepers in Rajouri Garden could run a business out of four floors or three floors and a basement.

The man at the helm of the changes was former South Delhi mayor Subhash Arya, who also happens to be a resident of the area and was the councillor from Rajouri Garden in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).

When News 18 asked Arya why the plan was only revised for Rajouri Garden, he said, “Officers of the MCD were not ready to pass a new plan immediately. They wanted someone to apply for a new plan. So I was the first one to apply and since I was the councillor from Rajouri Garden, it was called the Rajouri Garden Standard Plan. We wanted this to be applicable to the rest of Delhi as well but before we could do that, the Supreme Court has stayed any amendments to the Master Plan.”

According to Bhardwaj, the AAP maintains there is only one solution out of this current situation. “The only way to solve this is if the Central Government brings an ordinance and gives traders some time, maybe a year or two. In that period, the MCD can make local standard plans and get them notified. If, after that time, people are not able to meet the new requirements, only then should the sealing continue.”

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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