The Jhankar Banquet, a privately owned banquet hall housed inside the Asiad Village Complex in south Delhi, allowed Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay to host a family function there, thus flouting a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, which has enforced a ban on such functions. The NGT had, in its order on 10 July, asked Jhankar Banquet not to hold any functions until the restaurant at the Asiad Tower, which is located in the vicinity, was made operational. It also directed the Jhankar Banquet not to undertake any constructions in the area that would inhibit the Asiad Village Complex residents’ free movements. The Tribunal has also directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Delhi Police to ensure that there is no parking on roads and there is no noise pollution after 10.30 pm. The matter is of immense importance to the local residents.
“Jhankar Banquet has been openly violating the NGT order and Satish Upadhyay’s function on 21 November is just one of the many happenings almost every day,” said Billy Gupta, a resident of the Asiad Village Complex.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Satish Upadhyay said, “Why only am I being questioned? Just because I am the Delhi BJP president? Many other people have organised functions there. Why do not you ask all of them? As many as 100 functions have been held there since October. When you organise something somewhere, do you ask the owner whether he has got the licence. I have done nothing wrong.”
He said it was a family function held before the wedding of his daughter.
A resident said that the Tower Restaurant is not operational as it does not have the required licences from the Fire Department and the Licensing Branch of the Delhi Police.
Residents complained that Jhankar Banquet has constructed a 20 feet high concrete wall running about 650 feet deep inside the park and has constructed staircases. It has also fenced off the entire district park making it difficult for the residents to use the park. The area being a district park as per Master Plan 1990, no permanent structure can be created inside.
As Jhankar Banquet is operating in violation of the NGT order, a contempt petition was filed, following which the NGT stated, in its order dated 23 September, that the banquet should follow the 10 July order in letter and spirit. Residents complain that the chairman and vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority, Delhi police, etc., have not taken any steps to implement the NGT order.
The Jhankar Banquet, while violating NGT order, sought a date for filing its reply. The NGT has said that no more adjournments can be granted to it beyond 16 December, when the next hearing is scheduled.
The issue of NGT order violation was raised by two AAP MLAs, Saurabh Bhardwaj and Somnath Bharti, in the Delhi Assembly.
A resident said that Upadhyay’s party was attended by many top BJP and Congress leaders. “The event caused a huge traffic jam and also created noise pollution. The security guards deployed there did not allow the residents to take pictures so that these could be produced as evidence before the NGT,” he said.
Satish Upadhyay said, “We had organised a ‘Sundar Kand Paath’ there. The timing (4 pm to 7 pm) was printed on the invitation card and we adhered to the timing. At sharp 7 pm, we concluded the programme and left the venue. There was no inconvenience to anybody residing near the banquet hall, either in terms of loud music or traffic clutter.”