Weekly-markets privatization, late-night-shopping liberalization - Letter of 07.09.2004 to Secretary, MoUD

DMP provides for planned space for Weekly Markets in planned commercial centres in non-working hours. In the first week of September 2004 MCD has announced its scheme to auction management of Weekly Markets in unplanned locations and Delhi Government has announced its scheme to allow late-night shopping.

Dear Sir,

According to news reports of 01.09.04 MCD has come up with a “scheme” to auction to private parties “management” of 135-odd weekly markets in which MCD presently charges Rs.5 as tehbazari. The “contractor” will “define the space within which a shop-keeper will be allowed to squat” and ensure “smooth operation” purportedly to solve problem of “traffic jams and chaos”. This appears to be an extrapolation of the “scheme” by which MCD has “privatized” to a women’s NGO/magazine two hawker markets by what can only be called misleading the Supreme Court, as brought to your attention, including in WP 6980/2002.

According to a GNCTD advertisement / notice of 06.09.04 a “proposal has been initiated to bring about much desired liberalization for the benefit of labour, customers and shop owners, in the spirit of partnership (Bhagidari) between the government and all stakeholders” to allow shops to remain open up to 11:00 pm and all 7 days. The advertisement (issued in “Bhagidari” by Labour Commissioner) of 06.09.04 invites by 10.09.04 comments from “registered trade unions and associations representing employees and employers of shops and establishments” on some “points” about workers’ rights.

These moves violate statutory Delhi Master Plan provisions for Weekly Markets (p.18): “...Norms for the provision of weekly markets have been worked out as 1 to 2 locations per one lakh population with 300 to 400 units per location (area 0.4 ha.). Parking and other open spaces within the commercial centres could be so designed that weekly markets can operate in these during non-working hours”. Weekly markets in places other than those duly earmarked in notified plans and denial of non-working-hours use of space in commercial centres are both violative of Delhi Master Plan entitlements of weekly-market entrepreneurs and customers.

MCD and GNCTD schemes also seem unmindful of National Common Minimum Programme commitments for workers, especially in unorganized sector, and are pre-emptive of the National Commission that PM has reiterated on 30.08.04 is to be set up. In any case, it is not open to MCD or Delhi Government to trade-off Master Plan entitlements for any pursuits, howsoever “much desired” in opinion of some, without following due process for modification of Delhi Master Plan, inclusive of mandatory Public Notice for a period of 30 / 90 days.

In view of NCMP, especially as urban renewal (in ambit of which MCD and GNCT “schemes” fall) has been identified as one of seven priority areas for focused attention by PM in his Independence Day address, and in view of MoUD’s responsibilities for Delhi Master Plan, reiterated by Supreme Court in judgment for industries, I request you to issue s.41 directions to DDA to enforce Delhi Master Plan provisions for Weekly Markets and to ensure that MCD and GNCTD (duly represented on DDA) “schemes” are held in abeyance meanwhile.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely

Gita Dewan Verma, Planner

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