Hauz Khas Village, HKV – one of the most happening places in South Delhi is the default cab location on a Friday evening. At least for a working girl like me living in south Delhi, HKV is a rescue after a long week. I never give a second thought before deciding for a party, meeting or a casual date and pick just any place in HKV. The food, the ambience, the outdoor seating, the lake view, it is all a charm. I guess the only place which you may never get bored of. It is a perfect blend of modern party culture and a natural calm peaceful abode.
However, now, I am worried about the fate of our favourite Hauz Khas Village. Delhi High Court recently received a plea about HKV pubs serving alcohol near school areas and the matter since then has taken a serious turn. High Court has embarked upon the task of setting right all the violations of laws and safety measures taking place in HKV.
Before we move on to what the court has to say about the violation in Hauz Khas Village, let us go through some facts of the same.
- As per South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s report filed on August 08, 2017, there are in total 63 restaurants/eating houses/health trades in HKV.
- Out of these 63, 49 stand in violation of norms.
- Delhi Police, on the other hand, has stated to have issued only 46 licences.
Which means, only 05 restaurants have fire clearance.
Now, this is something to worry about. Frankly, all these things bothered me only on the New year’s eve when I was not even able to walk on roads and prayed for this place to be a little better managed.
Another fact to be noted is that the Deputy Commissioner of Police stated that while a mock terrorist drill was carried out, the NSG commanders could not reach to the Village location.
A bench headed by the acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal, of the Delhi High Court, therefore, has made observations. Some of them are:
1.) The streets in HKV are so constricted that it is almost next to impossible for any emergency service like fire van or ambulance to reach there in case of emergency.
2.) There is no comprehensive sewage management and the sewage system is not equipped to handle the load of toilets and kitchens of the restaurants.
3.) The commercial properties are already running illegally in violation of :
- Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957
- Building By-Laws
- The Master Plan of Delhi, 2021
- The Delhi Fire Safety Act, 2007
- The Delhi Police Act, 1978
In addition to all this, the establishments are also accused of violating Article 21 of the Constitution. Yes ! You read it right. They also stand accused of disturbing the environment, causing a threat to public safety and other commercial regulations.
Keeping all this in mind, the Court has raised several questions, like:
- Should the technical compliance be the only criteria for issuing a licence without taking into consideration the impact it will have on the public? And if the licence is granted, does that bestow an absolute right in the licensee to carry out the licensed the activity?
- Does it not come in way of the responsibilities of the Police, Fire Services Authorities, the Jal Board, Sewage Disposal Authority, Pollution Control Authority and other public authorities who are entrusted with the task of maintaining public safety?
- Will the Master Plan of Delhi, 2021 allow people to convert the residential complexes into commercial properties on the payment of meagre conversion fees without taking into account the nature of the property and if they are in accordance with the building by-laws.
- If the receipt of an online application for the sanction of permission to carry out changes or construction in the establishment enough? Shouldn’t the authorities physically inspect the establishment to ensure that it is in consonance with public safety and interest?
- Is it not the responsibility of the commercial enterprise owner to ensure that in the process of him carrying out his venture, harm is not caused to the life and limb of others and that it does not endanger the environment?
With so many questions at hand, though my heart aches to say, I completely think in lines with the High Court. I hope that Hauz Khas Village is revamped in a better way with all the security and safety at the place because deep in my heart I want to no more feel abused when I go to HKV on a New Years or Christmas Eve.
While the matter is set to be heard on 26 September 2017, Jal Board has been asked to inspect the nature of water supplies in the area.
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