De-sealing Delhi Properties

By: George Gonigal

There was first the Supreme Court verdict asking the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to seal those properties that were being put to non-sanctioned use. And much of Delhi's property users were affected in one way or another. Retailers who had operated out of premises for decades had to move out, find new premises as well as new clients and customers. In many cases with the city not having made studies on new requirement of properties in Delhi in different categories, it was difficult to even find space in many of these areas.

Then there were the owners and tenants of commercial properties in residential areas who were under fire. Severe shortage of commercial properties in Delhi drove many of the commercial users from institutional and residential areas to the suburbs in Gurgaon and Noida. Huge unplanned capital expenditure resulted and employees struggled to find their way to far off commercial destinations in Gurgaon and Noida where there was frenzied development of commercial properties by private developers such as DLF, Unitech, Vatika, Vipul, Alpha G Corp etc.

The third affected category was that of occupants of residential property who were dealt with a double whammy. The first was that the illegal third and beyond floors came under the MCD hammer. Then there was the crunch on space which meant increased rentals and low availability of residential property units. While corporate and retail users can still manage to juggle capital investments, for the average residential occupants the blow has been severe.

But are any of these categories celebrating the announcement of de-sealing? Not yet, says Manoj Kurup of a large consultancy firm. While his organization has always been extremely cautious and stringent about occupying legal commercial or residential property, he knows a large number of users who have suffered. 'The move is too capital investment intensive,' says Kurup.

This means that the move back to de-sealed property is today fraught with uncertainty. Only after the final verdict on whether the de-sealed commercial property is legal or not or even for that matter whether the residential property is legal for all times to come will the reversal of the process begin. Also those who have found new areas of functioning because of the forced move into legal commercial, retail or residential property may now have found the new areas conducive and may not want to move back in a hurry.

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