New Delhi, Oct 18 (UNI) Taking their battle directly to the people, occupants of the 95-year-old Gole Market here propose ballotting the area residents to determine the future utilisation of the heritage building.
The public referendum shall be held tomorrow during a 'Bhandara' being organised on the occasion of 'Durga Ashtami', according to Narayan Shamnani, President of the Gole Market Merchants Association which is fighting a legal battle with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for their right to carry on business from their present location.
The NDMC wants to relocate the 27-odd offices/shops in the grand old circular building at Gole Market to nearby Palika Bazar to facilitate renovation of the commercial complex.
The civic body placed the building in the 'dangerous' category last week having drawn up a restoration plan to repair it and put it to 'community use'. It contends that the building, built in 1912, had become so weak that it could collapse any day.
The occupants of the Gole Market have refused to shift to Palika Bazar on the ground that the licence fee being charged by the civic body for alternative shops was 'very high'. Besides, shops selling meat and fish in the circular building had not been given alternative shops in Palika Bazar, they pointed out.
The Delhi High Court last week issued a show cause notice to NDMC on a writ petition by the Gole Market Merchants. Directing that the case be taken up on April 22 next, Justice Gita Mittal further enjoined NDMC to ''take action against the petitioner only in accordance with law''.
Significantly, the present stance of NDMC was at sharp contrast with its previous demeanour wherein it had maintained that the Gole Market occupants would need to be dislocated for a maximum period of 54 weeks -- the time expected for completion of the renovation project.
Mr Shamnani alleged that since the assumption of office of new NDMC Chairman Parimal Rai, the entire stance of NDMC had undergone a sea-change.
''Now, the new Chairperson is hell-bent to oust and eject the occupants of shops and offices of the Central Circular Structure of Gole Market without being committal about their dislocation being temporary or permanent....'' UNI DG VD ND1802