Shocked that a huge shopping mall with 186 shops and a multiplex in Chennai had begun functioning without obtaining water and sewerage connection, the Madras High Court has said that no building should be put to use for commercial purpose without these two essential connections.
Justice G. Jayachandran dismissed a writ petition filed by a shopkeeper at VR Mall in Anna Nagar seeking trade licence despite the failure of the mall promoters to obtain water and sewerage connection.
“Merely because the guidelines and rules of the [Greater Chennai] Corporation do not specifically mention that sewerage connection is a mandatory requirement for the issuance of trade licence, one cannot expect the court to direct the Corporation to issue trade license without water and sewerage connections,” the judge observed.
The writ petition was filed by Chennai-based Maha Sports Design Apparels Private Limited, which had taken two shops on rent at VR Mall and was selling an international brand of swimwear. The petitioner’s counsel Vijayan Subramanian contended that the tenants could not be punished for the mistake committed by the promoters of the mall.
On the other hand, Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash told the court that all 186 tenants of the mall had applied for trade licence and their applications were initially kept pending at the request of mall promoters Sugam Vanijya Holdings Private Limited of Bengaluru who sought time to obtain water and sewerage connections from the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB).
As per procedures followed by the Corporation, obtaining the opinion of the Corporation’s Health department was a mandatory requisite for issuing trade licence.
However, such an opinion was withheld for quite some time at the request of the mall owners.
After waiting for a considerable period of time, the revenue officials in the Corporation rejected the plea for trade licence due to a negative report submitted by the Health Department, and the rejection orders were communicated to the tenants in April this year, the Commissioner said,.
Sugam Vanijya Holdings blamed the CMWSSB for not having provided water and sewerage connections despite receiving necessary charges.
Not wanting to express any opinion on the sufficiency or insufficiency of the zero discharge facility, the judge said: “Having constructed the massive building where theatres and shops are located and several thousands of people are expected to visit the mall, the safety of the building is a predominant one, vis-a-vis the interest of the individuals who have constructed the building and let out for rent to persons who want to carry out the trade. The statute indicates that for trade licence there must be all necessary public safety measures in the premises which no doubt includes water and sewerage connections.”