The Municipal Corporation of Delhi sealed certain premises of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation at Inderlok station on Tuesday. While the MCD claims that the premises are unauthorised, the DMRC has contested the charge, pointing out that the civic body has acted in contravention of the Appellate Tribunal's directions.
A Delhi Metro spokesperson said the MCD had sealed several shops and commercial premises located inside the Inderlok station in violation of both administrative and judicial instructions.
“There are clear-cut orders issued by the Supreme Court that such disputes should be sorted out administratively between the departments and unilateral action is unjustified,” the spokesperson said.
The Delhi Metro also claims that the civic body itself had given trade licences to some of the commercial establishments operating from inside the station premises that were also sealed on Tuesday. “McDonald's and Big Bazaar, for instance, were given licences by the MCD itself so how can they turn around and declare them illegal?” questioned R. M. Raina, Adviser (Property Development) of DMRC.
“The MCD has flouted the orders of the Appellate Tribunal. The Delhi Chief Secretary had also asked them not to seal the properties till the matter is resolved by the Government. The MCD has been insisting that the Metro building and the shops operating inside are illegal,” he added.
On whether the Inderlok station is unauthorised, Mr. Raina said there is an order by the Union Urban Development Ministry specifying that any operational Delhi Metro or railway building should not be subjected to clearances for building plans and that they do not need prior approval of the MCD.
Referring to the longstanding dispute between the MCD and the DMRC over the construction, the DMRC spokesperson said: “After hearing both sides the Chief Secretary issued orders in June 2006 and February 2007 restraining the MCD in the matter. In spite of the same, the MCD again sent a notice on March 5, 2010, to seal some premises inside the Inderlok station. This was therefore contested before the Appellate Tribunal of the MCD by DMRC.”
DMRC Managing Director E. Sreedharan also wrote to the MCD Commissioner K. S. Mehra explaining that since the Tribunal had taken the stand that the Chief Secretary's order restraining the MCD from sealing the civic body properties was still binding, Tuesday's action was tantamount to contempt of court.
The DMRC has also explained in detail why it is permitted to carry out property development at its buildings and metro stations. “Property development activities are undertaken by DMRC to raise alternative sources of revenue without which metro fares would have to be raised causing hardships to the travelling public. The DMRC has been permitted to undertake such activities including leasing and concessions without any restrictive condition as per the approval of the Group of Ministers and Ministry of Urban Development,” said the spokesperson.
“As the shopping complex at Inderlok is part of an operational structure of DMRC, no prior permission is required from the civic authorities,” the spokesperson added.
“Property development,” Mr. Raina said, “helps the DMRC raise a substantial portion of its revenue. The only other options would be hiking fares, asking the Government for subsidy or restricting the expansion work.”