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Police, SDMC face HC ire on Hauz Khas village eateries


New Delhi: The police and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) today faced the ire of the Delhi High Court for allowing eating joints to come up “neck to neck” in violation of building laws and the master plan in the Hauz Khas village area of the city.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar observed that the restaurants were located “one on top of another” in the area and were running out of residential properties which had been converted to commercial use.

“More than 100 restaurants are running neck to neck in that small area in violation of building bye-laws and the master plan. Restaurants are located one on top of another,” the court said and questioned whether such conversion was permissible.

It further said that “time and again” it has told the authorities not to permit conversion of residential buildings without following the building bye-laws and the master plan requirements.

The court said it cannot blame citizens for not following the law when statutory bodies like the municipal corporation and the police were flouting laws by issuing licences without ensuring compliance of building bye-laws and master plan requirements.

“You have permitted Kingsway Camp and Lado Sarai to become a nuisance. How are you permitting violation of master plan here,” the bench said to the SDMC.

It directed Delhi Police, Fire Services Department and the SDMC to file affidavits on what was the permissible use of the properties where the eateries were located.

It also sought to know “how licences could be issued for properties for usage which is in violation of the master plan regarding permissible usage” and listed the matter for further hearing on August 2.

The court was hearing two public interest litigations alleging “unlawful existence” of restaurants, pubs, fashion studios, bars serving liquor without licence, art galleries and other buildings in the village.

The petitioners, social activist Pankaj Sharma and advocate Anuja Kapur, alleged that there are over 120 restaurants and pubs running in the area without any building plan approval or no objection certificate (NOC) from the authorities, including the fire department.

They have contended that the crowding of the area is more at late hours of the night.

To ascertain this claim, the court ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and Chief Fire Officer of the area to ensure that random surprise inspections of the area are carried out and to file a status report regarding it.

The petitioners’ have also told the bench that running of these restaurants pose a grave security risk and fire hazard and apart from that the crowd in the area makes it impossible for emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks to gain access to the restaurants in the area.

Source: PTI

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