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After four months no chemical trader will operate from the walled city of the national capital as the Delhi High Court has directed the municipal corporation of the area to seal all premises undertaking such activity after this period.
The direction to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar came on an NGO's plea seeking shifting of chemical units to the integrated freight complex (IFC) in Narela.
The purpose of the IFC is to act as a centre for off-loading and picking up wholesale goods by road and rail from and to other states to decongest the national capital, Society for Awareness and Development has said in its plea.
"Imperative direction is needed especially because the shifting is absolutely critical so that the city breathes, actually survives. This was the object of the development of this complex," the bench said.
The court noted that the IFC, its road and sewage network as well as other facilities were built nearly 10 years ago, but they needed repairs as they have been lying unused till now.
It said the IFC was built and developed at the cost of taxpayers money and even more of it would now be spent on its repairs.
"It is mindboggling to visualise the quantum of public money which must have been expended in acquisition of the land for development of the complex, laying down the complex, construction and development of the facilities, ensuring its security and conservation, preventing encroachments and now for effecting repairs to brand new unutilised structures," the court said.
"All these have taken place at tremendous costs to the public exchequer," it added.
The bench noted in its order that despite all this money being spent to set up the IFC, the illegal trade has continued with impunity and in violation of specific court orders passed earlier.
The court directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to process within a month all the applications received from chemical traders, who wish to shift to the IFC, for sanction of their building plans.
Those granted sanction have to effect construction within three months of getting the go ahead from the DDA, the court said.
With the directions, it listed the matter on April 25 by when the DDA and the NDMC have to file reports indicating they have complied with the orders of the court.
The court had pulled up the land owning agency DDA and the municipal corporation of north Delhi for not ensuring that traders from the walled city shift to the IFC in Narela, even after plots have been allotted for the purpose.
It had also expressed concern over the "wastage of tax payers money" with which the IFC has been set up.
It had earlier suggested cancellation of the allotments of the traders who were not moving to the IFC and to shut down their businesses.