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NDMC closes 21 pubs in Connaught Place after roof collapse


It was only after a portion of a building on the first floor in Connaught Place’s C-block collapsed last week that the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) acted against illegally run rooftop restaurants in the grand colonnades.

These open-air restaurants have been running for years without permission, and the NDMC closed 21 rooftop restobars on Friday.

The portion of the building that crumbled was above the well-known Jain Book Agency, and it was leased out to a restaurateur for a new pub. According to senior officials, the Chief Architect’s office had sent show-cause notices to these restobars for ‘misuse of premises beyond sanction’ under/Sections 250 and 252 of the NDMC Act, 1994.

According to norms, the NDMC bars the use of terrace/balconies in heritage buildings for any kind of commercial activity.

“These restaurants have converted terrace space into dining areas and played loud music. These terraces were residential units earlier and cannot take excess load,” said a senior official.

He added that the civic body’s EBR department (responsible for sealing and demolishing unauthorised constructions) had earlier issued the owners notices to remove the ‘illegally built structures’.

“After the EBR issued them notices, the owners submitted an affidavit to the civic body stating that they will not use the balconies/terrace for any commercial activity. However, they continued with the business, after which we had to seal the area,” said NDMC’s Chief Architect Rajeev Sood.

The sealed restobars include Warehouse cafe in D-block, The Vault Cafe in F-block, Kinbuck-2 and Kitchen Bar in C-block, Lord of the Drinks, OPEN HOUSE CAFE, Jungle Jamboree, Boombox Cafe, Farzi Cafe, House of Commons, Hotel Palace Heights, Office Canteen Bar, Luggage Room, Cafe OMG, Unplugged Courtyard, Barbeque Nation, TC Bar & Restaurant, Teddy Boy Restaurant and The Niche Restaurant among others.

Restaurant owners plan to protest against the decision. Charanjeet Singh, Operations Director, Warehouse Cafe, said: “We will appeal to the NDMC to allow terrace dining by bringing a change in norms. They can check the documents and procure certificates. We will sit on a protest if they do not listen to us.”

Riyaaz Amlani, President, National Restaurant Association of India, said: “The collapse has got nothing to do with rooftop restaurants. The civic body must check structural stability certificates before issuing licences. We have given them several representations requesting a change in norms. The government has to decide on a policy regarding what kind of a city they want. A blanket ban is just a lazy option to provide in the name of safety.”

Last year, the New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA), too, had written to NDMC Chairman Naresh Kumar to cap the number of restaurants on rooftops, citing “excess load on heritage structures.”

Source: DNA India

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