NEW DELHI: Scores of shopkeepers at more than two dozen prominent markets in Delhi took to streets on Tuesday protesting against the sealing drive being conducted by civic agencies on the orders of monitoring committee since the last one month.
Making a call for mass closure of markets Bandh, the umbrella organization Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT) led the agitation against the sealing drive. Traders in many parts of the city shut down commercial activities and led protests in groups at individual markets. Prominent markets like Chandni Chowk , Karol Bagh, Sadar Bazar , Rajouri Garden were shut in view of the protest.
"The local shopping centres were given on commercial rates and now conversion charge is being demanded and sealing is conducted without giving any notice, which is not justified. The entire sealing proceedings are being run in a dictatorial manner, we demand that the central government should protect the traders by brining an ordinance regarding shop-cum-residential plots" said CAIT Secretary general Praveen Khandelwal. The organization has set deadline of end of this month to solve the issue otherwise threatening a mass closure for a longer period.
The sealing commenced from Defence Colony market one month ago on December 22nd last year and is being conducted at areas where many traders have started commercial activities where there should be a residence. Directions to the civic bodies for sealing came through a Supreme Court appointed monitoring committee. Traders at these markets have been claiming that earlier when these areas were purchased by them it was on commercial rates and not as residential areas hence no conversion charge. But the corporation has stated that before using the space a conversion charge is to be deposited by the owners for the use of the area for commercial activity which they have not hence the portions of the premises are being sealed.
Meanwhile, in order to gain support of Delhi’s trading community all the political parties are trying to woo them by hitting out at opponents and showing solidarity with the traders.
“I urge Centre to bring Ordinance, if required, to protect Delhi’s traders from sealing. Delhi government offers all cooperation to Centre, whatever is needed. Economic situation already grim. Sealing has hit traders very hard. It is our duty to protect them. Else number of people would become jobless” tweeted Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal. Aam Aadmi Party has shown solidarity with traders while hitting out at MCD BJP for the woes of traders and directly blaming the BJP responsible for the sealing drive.
The Leader of Opposition in Delhi government BJP’s Vijendra Gupta hitting back at AAP stated that they are “misleading” the traders “It is unfortunate that now CM Kejriwal is playing politics by misleading the traders by asking the Centre to bring an ordinance to save them from sealing. The three MCDs have sent the revised list of 351 roads to the Delhi Government for notification. Delhi government should notify them immediately” said Gupta.