Once again, Delhi's popular Hauz Khas Village area has earned the ire of the Delhi High Court. And once again, it is due to security concerns and safety hazards over emergency service vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks not being able to reach the area in case of trouble. This time, however, the court is asking some very pointed questions to the police as well as the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) over the blatant flouting of rules, according to a Times of India report.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar ordered an inspection of the area after hearing two PILs alleging illegal constructions and encroachments caused by restaurants, pubs, fashion studios, art galleries and bars without permits serving alcohol. The bench asked the SDMC how restaurants were being allowed to run "neck to neck in that small area" without the requisite permissions. It also asked how residential buildings were being allowed to be used for commercial purposes, despite the obvious violation of the area's building bylaws and master plans.
The petition alleges that in addition to being a fire hazard, illegal constructions make it impossible for emergency service vehicles to access the area in case of a tragedy.
The police, fire department and SDMC have been given until August 2 to conduct inspections and file affidavits detailing how licenses were issued to these establishments.
The petitioners, social activist Pankaj Sharma and advocate Anuja Kapur, claim that Hauz Khas Village currently holds over 120 restaurants and pubs without building plan approvals or No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from the concerned authorities, including the fire department. They allege that in addition to being a major fire hazard, illegal constructions and the crowds make it impossible for emergency service vehicles to access the area in case of a tragedy. The petition seeks a complete ban on illegal restaurants, pubs, bars and other establishments, according to a report on Zee News.
In May this year, the high court had issued notices to the Centre, the Delhi government, the SDMC, the police, and the fire department, ordering an inspection of the area to ascertain how many establishments were running there illegally, whether they were complying with safety norms and to ensure strict enforcement of law in the area, reported Financial Express.
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